Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Reaction of Governments to Wikileaks Should Scare the Hell Out of You

a Tweet that says it all:

The Reaction of Governments to Wikileaks Should Scare the Hell Out of You

A Marine's review of Wikileaks ongoing battle with government secrecy.
Roberto Arguedas is a public school teacher in Atlanta with a focus on diplomatic history. He served in the Marine infantry in Fallujah (post Phantom Fury) and Ramadi (during the surge). He blogs at Philistine Vulgarity about politics, games, and more.

His comments on the free speech aspects of this new kind of electronic conflict are especially relevant.

Finally, the reaction of governments to these leaks should scare the hell out of you. The seemingly inevitable arrest (via Reddit) of Julian Assange by British authorities on Swedish sexual assault charges as encouraged by the American government likely represents a 21st century remix of the classic honeypot, and the willingness to use it on such a high profile individual should be worrisome irrespective of the veracity of the charges. It's just the tip of the iceberg, though. Apart from Facebook's notably understated position, the ease and rapidity with which corporations across the US and the world were reminded of where the fishes sleep should be of tremendous concern. If Amazon, credit card companies, Paypal, and Swiss banks are the big stories with their reliance on technicalities to wriggle out of their responsibilities in obvious response to government pressure, it is EveryDNS being brazenly strongarmed into abdicating its role as a neutral gatekeeper that should set the tone for future conversations about net neutrality.

The potential for Comcast or Verizon abusing their place in the food chain pales in comparison to an overt example of governments colluding to silence what they can't defeat in court with intimidation and technological warfare. Naturally, some will point to the "hacktivist" response (apologies if that's your first exposure to that term) as an equal and opposite reaction: while possibly emotionally gratifying, in the end it has the same outcome of discouraging corporate work with transparency organizations since dealing with governments is not as easy to opt out of. As Senator Joseph Lieberman makes clear (via Cory), it's easy for unscrupulous advocates of censorship to view this as an opportunity, a watershed that brings together their traditional loathing of old media with contemporary technology.

No comments: