Spain's Xnet: leak-publishing corruption-fighters

Xnet is a Spanish collective that invites the public to leak evidence of corruption using the Tor anonymizer, then uses those leaks to bring private criminal complaints against officials and corporations.

Spain's law allows private parties to ask a judge to consider criminal charges. Xnet's 200+ volunteers are inspired by Wikileaks, and use crowdfunding to raise money to pay lawyers to pursue the private criminal matters.

Their biggest success to date was a suit over the bailed-out Bankia bank, whose senior execs used off-the-books Bankia credit credit cards to buy €15M worth of luxury goods, vacations, and groceries. Xnet raised €20K in 24h to sue Bankia.

I've had a lot of people send me this story because the guerrilla network in my novel Little Brother is called Xnet, but as far as I know, there's no relation (though these Xnet characters sound like pretty amazing and inspiring activists!).

Only those activists registered as journalists can read the emails in the drop box because Spanish law protects their professional right to withhold the informer's identity in court.

The journalist activists filter the messages and usually discount 90 per cent of the material sent in - gossip, complaints not backed up by evidence, personal information sent by separated couples or jilted lovers. Reports are drawn up on the remaining 10 per cent considered worthy of follow-up, which are sent to a second mailbox that other Xnet members can access without seeing the original sender's identity.

"All this stuff about hackers getting into a company's systems and stealing information is a Hollywood myth. It's not how it works in reality," explained Sergio Salgado, an Xnet activist. "We know systems are watched now, after the (Edward) Snowden case. We have to take precautions but what we do is public."

Most of the information Xnet activists gather is fed to Spanish media as a kind of tip service so journalists can probe deeper. The original informer can choose whether to give their name or stay anonymous.

About Xnet [Xnet-x.net]

Spain's WikiLeaks-inspired Xnet peaceful guerrilla movement fights graft using technology, courts [Jorge Sainz/Sidney Morning Herald]

Loading...