There’s been a large amount of stuff in the news and around the internet lately about Wikileaks, and I’ve found this of enough interest to me to decide to put my two cents worth in on the subject.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Wikileaks – a non-profit organisation that publishes leaked documents online – has recently begun publishing 250000 diplomatic cables from the US (the statistics for which can currently be found here). Since then, they have come under a great deal of political persecution from both the US and Australia – which has involved the shutting down of their original site (which is now maintained on several ‘mirror’ sites), and threats against their director (Julian Assange) – despite the fact that they have done nothing that can be classed as a crime in either country. This, in my opinion, it tantamount to censorship.
I’ve got some fairly strong views on censorship that have been discussed briefly in the past, which I still hold quite strongly. While I agree that many of the documents that are the current focus of this have been (and will continue to be) embarrassing to America, there has been nothing in the leaks so far that is a threat to national security (and they even gave the US an opportunity to name files that they considered a threat – which they would not have published) – in fact, the people behind Wikileaks believe that the leaking of these documents to the public could help being about peace in various areas of the world. I believe that the goal Wikileaks holds (to bring important news and information to public attention – particularly information that Governments are deliberately hiding [their slogan is ‘we open governments’]) is a valid goal, especially in this world where all other information can be sent instantly around the world – and in this world where many important (worldchanging even) events happen behind closed doors. I hold to the view that a government should be open about issues, and what they are doing about them – and provide full public disclosure of items that do not affect national security. Ironically, this was also a view held by one of the founders of the very nation that is attempting to shut Wikileaks down.
Whether or not you hold the same views about this as I do, it is still a disturbing fact that there are governments around the world that will do anything to hold onto it’s secrets (even old ones – the cables stretch back to 1966), even if it means shooting the messenger to do so. If they are so caught up in protecting their secrets, they should be investigating the people in their own departments – who are actually leaking this information – rather than the people reacting and distributing it.