2010

Even in midsummer, the historic Ellingham Hall, Norfolk, is a grey place. For Australians used to brighter sunshine year round, it would retain that slight English dinginess even if its most famous resident was not under house arrest. Yet, among the legal problems facing the Australian citizen Julian Assange, the most important challenges are not especially well known. Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 as a website dedicated to the secure receipt and anonymous publication of inside information too sensitive or risky for information-holders to release any other way. The bulk if not the entirety of disclosures of public importance since that time were not authorised by the institutions concerned. In other words, as intended, they constitute 'leaks.' Questions of when uuthorised disclosure of information is warranted, and by whom and how such judgments are to be made, are not new in democracies that have long wrestled with the public interest value of whistleblowing.2 However, the entry of new media into this territory, spearheaded by WikiLeaks, has brought public whistleblowing to the forefront of intertiol debate as never before. This article reviews key political responses to WikiLeaks, intertiolly but especially in Assange's home state of Australia, for their lessons for current and future directions in law reform with respect to public whistleblowing.