I feel that I need to express my opinion on the recent Wikileaks-related events. I know that many of my friends or those who follow my thoughts on the Web might not agree with me but I always believe that it’s healthy to have a difference in opinions since it makes for interesting conversations :-)
I’ve been monitoring the news stories over the last few days. From one side, it’s a celebration of social media and the Internet. The speed by which information, opinions, and news are being distributed around the world is a great demonstration of the tremendous power that we have in our hands in the age of information. On the other hand, the reaction by our governments throughout the world shows, in my opinion, that there are ever-increasing efforts by those in power to control us, to keep the population of the planet blind about their actions, to filter the truth, to hide their dealings.
Governments are accountable for their actions. That’s at the heart of democracy. Politicians should only be afraid of the truth if they have something to hide, if their actions do not represent the will of the people. Those close to me know that I believe in “if you don’t want your actions to be discovered, you shouldn’t do them in the first place”. The truth about a government’s actions is not what puts peoples’ lives in danger; it’s the actions themselves, the greed that drives those actions, our inability as people to co-exist, to collaborate, and to co-evolve.
I have been negatively surprised by many of the politicians’ reactions. Do calls to “hunt Wikileaks founder like a terrorist” belong in a democratic and civil society? Are we going to start hunting down all those who reveal information that governments want to keep secret? Are we going to stop journalism? Would have the reaction been the same if the released documents were from the Chinese or Russian governments? I suspect we might have been celebrating a “hero” now.
Please note that I am not supporting any type of illegal activity, by either side. If laws were broken, people should be punished. Our modern society has a legal system that should be used to decide blame and judge.
I am disappointed that many companies (Internet services and financial institutions) out there have taken action against Wikileaks under the pressure of governments around the world. Leaks of confidential documents have taken place since the concept of “confidential document” existed. And know what? They will continue to take place.
Any action against Wikileaks is really an attempt to control information dissemination, an attack against the foundation of information access on which the Internet is based. Diplomacy really needs to evolve.
People talked about “privacy 2.0”, about how social media is transforming our approach to privacy. I wonder whether the world should transition to “diplomacy 2.0”, a world where countries are more transparent about their interactions and deals, where we use information sharing as a way to coordinate for our common goals, for co-existence.
I suspect that many of the worlds’ governments might be elevating Wikileaks and its editor-in-chief to “martyr” status because of the way they are reacting. Here’s what Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief, wrote earlier today: “Don’t shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths“.