WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday that the controversial site will let some of the world’s major tech companies see even more detailed information about the CIA’s cyberactivities than has been released on the internet thus far. Assange spoke at a press conference at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has sought asylum for the last five years.
“The Central Intelligence Agency lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal,” Assange said. “This is an historic act of devastating incompetence to have created such an arsenal and stored it all in one place and not secured it.”
Assange said the revelations regarding the agency’s capabilities was only one half of the larger story. The bigger problem – and CIA officials would likely agree – is that they let this information go out the door, only to wind up on WikiLeaks.
In the press conference, Assange said that WikiLeaks was redacting and withholding a number of details about how the CIA operates, because they want to avoid “journalists and people of the world, our sources, being hacked using these weapons.” As a remedy, he said he would provide companies like Google, Microsoft, and Samsung early access to the material.
“We have decided to work with them, to give them some exclusive access to some of the technical details we have, so that fixes can be pushed out,” Assange said.
Some of the companies whose software was named in the documents have released statements saying the vulnerabilities detailed in the release have already been patched. Others, they say, refer to older hardware no longer in widespread use.
As for the CIA, they insist that they have never used their electronic surveillance capabilities to spy on American citizens, and they have attacked Assange as an enemy of the U.S.
“As we’ve said previously, Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity,” said agency spokesman Dean Boyd. “Despite the efforts of Assange and his ilk, CIA continues to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.”
For now, the CIA and the FBI are concentrating on finding the source of the leak.
Meanwhile, Americans who use technology of any kind have another reminder of how illusory privacy is in the modern world.