Thursday, December 09, 2010

The crack in the Hoover Dam

Although media freedom is a value I would like to see pursued, I can't support Wikileaks approach towards it. I see Wikileaks as having killed the golden goose even before it had a chance to lay an egg.

For me, the main problem is that Wikileaks has been selective about what kind of information and, more importantly, whose information to release. Of all the secrets in the world, it's been targeting one particular country's to expose, the USA. Because Wikileaks hasn't also published the secrets of the more security conscious nations, like China or Russia at the same scale at the same time, the USA has become severely disadvantaged strategically, diplomatically, and not to mention the loss of face in the global community.

Now because of 'disclosures... that Nato had secretly prepared a plan in case Russia invaded its Baltic neighbours.... Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Nato had to explain why it privately considered Russia an enemy while publicly describing it warmly as a "strategic partner" and ally.' Russia clearly has the moral high ground here, but only because Wikileaks hasn't seen fit to publish or has been unable to obtain similar plans from the Russian side of the border. It would be naive to assume that Russia doesn't have one of its own.

If it's freedom of information Wikileaks wants, it should have the resourcefulness and courage to publish such information from the more closed up nations too, like North Korea and Iran, that are much bigger mysteries to us in terms of their global agenda. At least, be fair and lay bare everybody's secrets all at once and not just pick on the one nation that also happens to be actively campaigning FOR information freedom. Or rather, was.

What's happened is that Wikileaks has exposed one player's poker hand while the game is still going on. Sure, the player may have a hidden ace or three up his sleeve, but so have all the other players. It's the whole corrupt game we want to end, and not just punish the least discreet player for not keeping his cards closer to his chest. It's no wonder, then, that the Obama Administration which once promised an increase in information freedom suddenly now has to fix the huge crack in the Hoover Dam that Wikileaks caused -- which they now use as evidence that the President is going back on his word, thus justifying their actions.

And now the thugs who are taking 'vengeance' on organizations that are distancing themselves from the horn-tooter whistle-blower website are just being ironic. They call their own organization 'Anonymous' and use cute codenames although they're all for transparency and no secrets. I guess it's ok for them to have access to other's secrets as long as they don't have to share their's.

Openness and transparency are earned through the building up of trust. They cannot be achieved by eavesdropping, coercion and blackmail, which instead tends to have the opposite effect. If anything is to be learned from this event, it's that information is going to be locked up tighter. There'll be more paranoia, more security and more filters to put an end to further 'leaks'. Instead of a world with more freedom, we're going to be a lot more careful about what we say and whom we say it to, while looking over our shoulders to make sure no one else is listening in. Thanks a lot, Mr Assange.

1 comment:

elim said...

*likes post!*