Julian Assange is known worldwide as the founder, editor in chief and public face of Wikileaks. Wikileaks themselves have been in and out of the news these past years and for this reason (and perhaps his freakish white hair), Assange’s face is unmistakably recognisable all around the globe.
The other day I was out and about on assignment for OzSoapbox and cycling down Taipei’s Zhongxiao East Road. Stopping at the intersection of Zhongxiao East and Dunhua South Roads for a red light… I sat on the Long Haul Trucker and took in my surroundings.
The time of day and location meant that most of the people about were either on a break from work or women dressed in expensive clothes maxing out their
boyfriend’s/husband’s credit cards.
Looking past the people and taking in the wonderfully sunny day, a rarity these past few months, my eyes stopped when they came across a large orange billboard.
‘That looks like… wait, it is! What’s Julian Assange’s face doing on a giant billboard in the middle of Taipei?’
The height of the building and angle I was shooting at meant distance wise it was difficult to get a clear shot of the billboard, but after several attempts I decided to continue on with what I had and hope there was something salvageable.
This is the best closeup shot of the billboard I was able to manage:
and it reveals that the company appears to be called ‘Xfile’.
Julian Assange and the X-Files? The plot thickens.
My own investigation attempts turned up nothing so figuring the Chinese text would reveal clues I handed over what I had to the girlfriend and within minutes she pointed me to the website of DSG Technology.
DSG’s Xfile Confidential range appears to consist of telephony products which encrypt voice communications via a ‘Diffie-Hellman 2048-bit Asymmetric Algorithm‘.
The phone number featured on the billboard matches the address provided by DSG Technology Taiwan on their website:
453 Zhongshan North Road Section 5
Shilin District, Taipei City
Ph: 886 2 8861 5558
Fax: 886 2 8861 5557
This indicates that DSG Technology themselves have authorized the advertising campaign.
So who are DSG Technology?
Founded in 1997, DSG Technology is a leading supplier of Computer Telephony and IP Communication equipment.
DSG Technology’s head office is located in a rapidly growing high tech area in Taiwan, with branch offices located in Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, and USA.
So what’s a multinational corporation using Julian Assange’s image to market their phone call security products for? And more importantly – do either Julian Assange or Wikileaks even know about it or endorse DSG’s Xfile Confidential products?
Julian Assange doesn’t appear to feature on either the Taiwan based or global website of DSG (as far as I can tell) and a Google search for a link between DSG and Assange didn’t turn up anything concrete.
Whether or not more of these orange billboards exist I can’t say, thus far I’ve only noiced the single board up at Zhongxiao and Dunhua south roads.
I’ve tried to contact Wikileaks to see if they are aware Assange’s image is being used and to clarify whether or not there’s some kind of licensing deal in place.
I’m not sure whether or not Wikileaks will reply but with no publicly viewable acknowledgement between the three parties (Wikileaks, DSG and Assange) at this stage it all seems a little suss.
Stay tuned, I’ll update if I hear anything back from Wikileaks or Assange.
Update – Wikileaks’ tweet about the sign seems to indicate that there’s no license agreement between Wikileaks, Julian Assange or DSG Technology.
We trademarked Julian’s name. Now it looks like we have to trademark his face #opportunism
No word on any further action…