Wikileaks is a new player in the apparently unstoppable trend for information to be free in the modern age. Data is perfectly replicable, sharable, scalable, and virtually free to reproduce or distribute. The scarce resource is no longer information, which flows like water. The resource is our attention and focus. The international hostility to Wikileaks deserves a closer examination.
Wikileaks has published cables with additional information on the progress of the war and documentation on international player in geo-political hot spots. They have produced evidence proving the public discussion has been mislead and spun.
The intent of these correspondents was that these would never become public. The intent of workers’ correspondents within corporate organisations is similarly expected to remain private. Private opinions may become damaging to international conflict resolution or similar. They have also brought to light important information on the exercise of war that is not in the public domain.
Wikileaks may have committed a crime, exposed innocent people to harm or caused international diplomatic incidents, like the Saudi Arabian Kings’ urging strikes on Iran.
Where a crime is committed, the general process is extradition and a trial by peers.
The US State Department and many politicians/influencrs have applied pressure to public companies to cease doing business with them. The function of government and the State Department is to act within the principles of the US Constitution, which enshrines free speech (with the responsibility of legal liability), and act within legislation in effect. Function of a democratic government is not to arbitrarily impinge on citizens, particularly those of non-US domicile.
The actions to silence Wikileaks set a dangerous precedent where the principles of modern society – open accountability for one – can be circumvented without a mandate from society by referendum or order from the courts.
We may not like Wikileaks but we should defend their right to broadcast except in extreme circumstances like hate speech, or public incitements to harm individuals.