Architects use ‘dark web’ site to leak plans

A group of architects called Concrete Action is launching a website on the ‘dark web’ to allow development professionals to anonymously leak confidential documents about regeneration projects.
The ‘Wikileaks-style’ website will from June allow staff to leak documents such as viability assessments which are often not released in the public domain by councils and developers citing commercial confidentiality. Inside Housing understands activists have already lined up a programme of leaks.

Albane Duviller, an architect involved in Concrete Action, said the site will be used by campaigners and journalists. She said: ‘It will be a way to counter regeneration schemes that are driven by speculation. It will bring back into public knowledge that normally should be a part of the public debate.’

The group has a technology team to set up the website, trying to make it a ‘secure drop’ to allow professionals to leak information without leaving a digital trail that could identify them.

Anyone can visit websites on the dark web, if they have the URL. This means the site will be useable by activists, members of the public and journalists. However, these websites aren’t indexed by search engines, and it is very difficult to find out who runs them.

In recent years there have been a number of high-profile cases in which councils or developers have been accused of wrongly withholding viability assessments.  Greenwich Council in February was ordered by a tribunal to publish details of deal with developer Lend Lease to regenerate the iconic Heygate estate.

But it is possible that leakers could still be tracked down by property developers upset about information being released. Paul Mander, a partner at law-firm Pennington Manches, warned staff would almost certainly be dismissed if they are caught.

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