As­sange: Wik­iLeaks will help tech firms fix se­cu­rity flaws

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Ju­lian As­sange, founder of Wik­iLeaks, said Thurs­day that the anti-se­crecy or­ga­ni­za­tion would work with Ap­ple, Google and other tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to fix flaws that have al­lowed the CIA to hack into the phones, com­put­ers and other de­vices they pro­duce.

Speak­ing from Lon­don in an on­line news con­fer­ence, As­sange ac­cused the CIA of with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion about the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties the agency was ex­ploit­ing in U.S. tech­nol­ogy even af­ter it re­al­ized doc­u­ments de­scrib­ing the flaws had been leaked weeks ago.

While some com­pa­nies have al­ready fixed the weak­nesses re­vealed in a batch of se­cret CIA doc­u­ments made public by Wik­iLeaks on Tues­day, As­sange said, oth­ers say they need more tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion on the hack­ing tech­niques.

“There’s a lim­ited abil­ity to try and pro­duce se­cu­rity fixes for iPhones, for Sam­sung TVs, for An­droid phones pro­duced by Google, for Mi­crosoft, for Linux, be­cause the ex­act tech­ni­cal de­tails are not known,” As­sange said. “We have de­cided to work with them to give them some ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the ad­di­tional tech­ni­cal de­tails we have, so that fixes can be de­vel­oped and pushed out so peo­ple can be se­cured.”

For As­sange, it was a re­mark­able turn­ing of the ta­bles. He has fre­quently been ac­cused by U.S. of­fi­cials of be­ing an en­emy of the United States and an ally of Russia, es­pe­cially since Wik­iLeaks re­leased emails from Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that were be­lieved to have come from Rus­sian gov­ern­ment hack­ers.

But Thurs­day the Aus­tralian-born As­sange pre­sented him­self as a de­fender of some of the most prom­i­nent U.S. tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies against their own gov­ern­ment’s over­reach­ing and dou­ble-deal­ing.

“Why has the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency not acted with speed to come to­gether with Ap­ple, Mi­crosoft and other man­u­fac­tur­ers to de­fend us all from its own weapons sys­tems?” As­sange asked.

The CIA made an un­usu­ally full re­sponse, at­tack­ing As­sange’s cred­i­bil­ity and not­ing that any spy­ing it does is re­stricted by law to for­eign­ers and for­eign coun­tries, with Amer­i­cans off lim­its.

“As we’ve said pre­vi­ously, Ju­lian As­sange is not ex­actly a bas­tion of truth and in­tegrity,” Heather Fritz Hor­niak, an agency spokes­woman, said in a state­ment. “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.”

The state­ment de­clined to ac­knowl­edge the au­then­tic­ity of the more than 8,000 doc­u­ments from the CIA’s Cen­ter for Cy­ber In­tel­li­gence that Wik­iLeaks posted on­line, although of­fi­cials have said pri­vately that the leaked ma­te­rial is gen­uine. But the state­ment de­fended the agency’s use of “in­no­va­tive, cut­ting-edge” meth­ods to gather in­tel­li­gence.

Ju­lian As­sange ac­cuses CIA of with­hold­ing info.

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