Monday, December 13, 2010

Wikileaks and Privacy

I'm a little conflicted about wikileaks. On one hand, this Assange fellow wasn't the guy who actually stole the documents, on the other his organization is the one releasing it and should be held accountable.

Why I ask myself? Isn't leaked information free to roam the interweb? Shouldn't governments be more transparent? The answer to both is yes but there are some caveats.

Caveat 1 - Privacy and Personal Security

There are a bunch of sources mentioned in the leaks or at least that can be traced back to individuals who are now at various levels of risk from embarrassment right up to execution. This doesn't pass the smell test and is just plain wrong, malicious and evil. How about if he was leaking all of our tax filings, would that be treated differently? How about when somebody starts leaking stolen facebook account chat transcripts? What's the difference?

Caveat 2 - Information Bunkers

By leaking this information, all new records will be pushed deeper into the secrecy envelope and making transparency much worse than it ever was. This is already in play. All the screaming hacktivists and journalists haven't quite got this point.

Caveat 3 - Our Security

Some people believe that everything the government does should be public all the time. If that was the case, then our country and government would be under constant economic, cultural and physical attack by those governments, corporations, individuals and organizations that don't play those rules.

It's a very sticky issue but I think that wikileaks is responsible for threatening security and privacy of individuals and countries and should pay the price. This isn't simple journalistic integrity at stake. Whatever happens next will redefine journalism and already has redefined inter and intra gov't secrecy for the worse.