Instructor Mike Odom
RHET 105, Sec C1
18th November 2011
The Weak Link in the ‘Transparent’ WikiLeaks
The advancement in technology is continuously making it more difficult for the government and corporations to keep secrets from the public. Nothing can stay hidden for long when the Internet is available to one and all. Nobody can deny the need of a medium to communicate essential information. It is the public that elects the government, hoping that it will ensure their protection, cater to their needs, and guarantee their well being. Only those who the state considers adults are allowed to vote and decide who governs them, and a curious mind will always question secrecy and probe it till the truth is revealed. Although the website WikiLeaks provides the world with such a platform, it fails at certain instances because it doesn’t filter the information it publishes. WikiLeaks provides the public with much needed insight into their government’s operations, but you can have too much of a good thing before the concept of diminishing returns comes into play; also, the government has the right to withhold information from the public if the release affects national security or might result into unnecessary chaos. A certain level of secrecy is essential when sensitive governmental issues are concerned. The idea of absolute Internet freedom is not feasible with the world in its current condition, and it is quite evident that WikiLeaks completely disregards all critical filters regarding the possible repercussions of its Leaks.
WikiLeaks is an international organization that publishes classified information submitted to them by anonymous sources; these bits and pieces and sometimes, bundles of information, may be in the form of diplomatic cables, documents of government secrecy, or other information related to certain powerful organizations. These submissions, or “Leaks,” are posted by supposed “reliable” sources throughout the globe. The website works by granting the user, who wishes to post a Leak, access to an electronic drop box, thus providing them with an easy and secure method to get their information to the WikiLeaks reviewers, who are anonymous as well. The organization then checks the document for its validity. If WikiLeaks finds both the user and the document credible, the original document as well as a news story is posted on the website. They keep updating and improving their technologies to include heavy encryption to ensure the safety of the leaker’s identity. They claim on their website that “unlike other outlets, we provide a high security anonymous drop box fortified by cutting-edge cryptographic information technologies” (n.p.). After the website was launched in 2006, it has rapidly filled its database with over a million documents to date.
The evident conclusion made from their line of action is that they believe in the concept that if governmental secrecy in the world disappears, the corrupt political establishments that are oppressing everybody will be overthrown, and as a result be able to reduce the evil of corruption that exists among powerful institutions. They work towards inspiring “transparency” and “open governments,” as stated on their website and re-iterated by their founder. WikiLeaks is the brainchild of the 39-year-old Australian born, former ethical hacker and computer programmer, Julian Assange. He is also the “editor-in-chief” and spokesperson of WikiLeaks. He has, much like the website itself, always been shrouded in controversy. The response to WikiLeaks' actions has always been directly or indirectly related to Assange. Evgeny Morozov describes Assange’s approach in his article, WikiLeaks and the Perils of Extreme Glasnost, as “a fairly conventional – even if a bit odd – political quest for ‘justice’ ” (7). Thus, Assange has a very objective approach to his work. His definition of “justice” is a condition in which everything unknown is made...