Tag: julius baer

Bank Drops Wikileaks Case

Run Away! Run Away!

(Not really much else the bank could do at this point):

Julius Baer Bank and Trust dropped its case against Wikileaks today, days after a San Francisco judge reversed an injunction against the iconoclastic document-leaking site. Judge Jeffrey White had ordered Wikileaks shut down in response to arguments that it had published stolen bank documents that contained sensitive proprietary information. But Wikileaks argued that the documents exposed fraud, and the injunction prompted a firestorm in the press over concerns that White had abridged constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and freedom of the press. “There are serious questions of prior restraint, possible violations of the First Amendment,” he said on Friday before reversing the order.

The bank took a voluntary dismissal (PDF), which technically means it could refile the suit if it wanted to.  

I wouldn’t hold my breath for that, though. After the pummeling they took both legally and publicitywise, Julius Baer is more than happy to get as far away from this colossal blunder of a law suit as it can.

To quote myself (ah, what the hell):

The damage to the bank for its ill considered attempt to use the Federal courts as a tool for censorship is already done.  Far from removing the incriminating documents from the public eye, Julius Baer’s blunder now means these documents are the main feature of a cause celeb that has generated the interest of millions of people around the globe, and many who would have otherwise never had known the documents existed are now fully aware of their incriminating contents.

What’s more, the boomerang effect of the bank’s lawsuit will make other would be censors think twice about trying to use the courts to silence opposition – while the bad publicity Dynadot received for cravenly caving to the bank’s intimidation should make other ISPs understand that they need to stand up against corporate bullies, and not sell out their customers at the first whiff of a lawsuit.

Nice to see arrogant corporate bullies actually get their comeuppance for once.

Ain’t it?

Judge dissolves Wikileaks shutdown order (updated 2x)

Judge White has had a serious Emily Latella moment.

From The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:

The whistleblower site Wikileaks.org may resume its U.S. operation following a hearing in California federal court today, where Judge Jeffrey S. White dissolved a previous order that required the site to be taken offline and indicated he would not approve a second order prohibiting the site’s publication.

The Feb. 15 orders had required domain name service provider Dynadot to cut off access to the Wikileaks site, disabling the Web address. A Swiss bank had asked the court to require the site to be taken down, arguing it disclosed private banking records.

Acting as a friend of the court, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and several other media organizations asked the judge earlier this week to take notice of the prior restraint that occurred as a result of those orders. Wikileaks had not appeared in court to defend against charges by the bank that it had improperly posted private information and no First Amendment concerns were raised before the Court.

White’s order of today dissolved the injunction that had prohibited Dynadot from allowing Wikileaks.org to be accessible. It also “tentatively” denied the bank’s request for an order that would keep Wikileaks from independently publishing itself online.

“It’s not very often a federal judge does a 180 degree turn in a case and dissolves an order,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “But we’re very pleased the judge recognized the constitutional implications in this prior restraint.”

White is expected to issue a full opinion on the matter in the near future. The media coalition’s brief in the case can be found at: www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20080229-amicusbrie.pdf

Shorter Judge White:

“Never mind!”

ACLU & EFF Intervene in Wikileaks Case

Here comes the cavalry:

San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California (ACLU-Northern California) Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit where a federal judge ordered the disabling of one of the domain names associated with “Wikileaks,” a website designed to give whistleblowers a forum for posting materials of public concern.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this case: the Swiss bank Julius Baer sued the whistleblower site Wikileaks and its Internet host Dynadot to remove documents related to the bank’s alleged money laundering activities in the Cayman Islands.

In a highly unusual ruling, the District Court, per a secret agreement between Dynadot and Julius Baer, granted the bank’s motion for a permanent injunction to both disable the Wikileak’s domain name and prevent its transfer to another registrar. The Court also ordered Dynadot to divulge all of Wikileak’s private client information and ruled it illegal for anyone (apparently anywhere in the world) to link to the documents at issue.  

Indeed, what makes this case even more unusual is that Wikileaks was informed of the bank’s motion by email only hours before the hearing, and when a Wikileaks attorney showed up informally to find out what was going on, she was ordered to leave the courtroom.

For more on this case, see Valtin’s excellent essay (also check out the comments) as well as this summary over at Wired.

The court’s injunction has far reaching implications for free speech on the Internet, because if allowed to stand, it means that anyone who doesn’t like what you post on the Internet can simply sue your host to shut you down.