Look before you censor

There’s been a sudden surge of interest in the activities of a hitherto-unknown Cayman Islands bank named Julius Baer ever since the bank persuaded a dozy judge to shut down the Wikileaks whistleblowing site. Bob Cringeley has some interesting things to say about the debacle.

Personally, I don’t think Baer was overly concerned the world would know its Cayman branch (allegedly) exists to launder money and avoid taxes. I think the bank didn’t want its rich, extremely powerful, allegedly money laundering/tax evading clientele to be exposed. Bad for business, you know.

But the bank’s solution is so mind-bogglingly stupid, you have to wonder if these guys need help getting their pants on each morning.

First, this is exactly the kind of story bloggers and Net-centric journos crave. Big nasty corporation stomps all over plucky public-serving underdog. Who can resist that plot line?

Second, the equation Bank Julius Baer = Money Laundering is now firmly cemented in the minds of everyone who has encountered this story, regardless of whether it’s true.

Trois: The documents in question, which might have been quickly forgotten alongside the 1.2 million others on the site, are now hotter than the Paris Hilton sex video. Dozens of mirror sites have sprung up, and Cryptome.org and PirateBay have squirreled away copies of the docs for any interested parties.

Oh, and by the way, the judge’s order failed to shut down the site. The IP numbers ( still work, as do its Belgian and Christmas Island domains. Or they would, only last time I checked the sites were overwhelmed with traffic from people with a sudden keen interest in Cayman Islands banking…