WikiLeaks, what can we tell about this website that defies the government? First of all it is an international non-profit organization working for transparency which publishes news leaks based on their ethical, historical and political significance. WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 by Chinese dissidents, journalists and mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, South Africa Australia, and Europe. An Australian Internet activist, Julian Assange, is described as a director of WikiLeaks. On the website, WikiLeaks states Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a basis their work by defining the human rights of expression and receipt of information regardless of frontiers as civil rights. The WikiLeaks web site further defines “principled leaking,” as necessary to fight government, individual and corporate corruption. Julian Assange also has compared his actions to Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers case as an example of why principled leaking would be necessary for good government.
Julien Assange and his website had a real big influence over the modern world. Moreover the consequences that it bring to the world plus the trial of its director, shows the importance of the media now a day’s and the way that they manipulated the information.
Some people dare to associate Wikileaks as the Facebook of the governments. For sure it takes a lot of nerves to do this comparison. But in a way that sentence is true, and it shows us a paradox on what the government says about the importance of our personal lives in the internet.
As a matter of fact the problem is that we do not yet really know how to deal with: the digitalization of our personal lives and information with new efficiencies. And it makes possible the leaking of our lives or important information. This would appear to be just as true for private individuals as for governments.
Despite all we say, Wikileaks can be called the government Facebook!
Like an individual who sees all his personal information be used by someone due to the Facebook, what are the consequences of the leaks that Wikileaks revealed to the world? The consequences to the governments involved as for their citizens, and for the employees working in Wikileaks.
Like we said it earlier, Wikileaks had an influence all over the world by publishing some sensitive information but for instance the main consequences of the website come down to the trust in government. This was the very sadly example of both, the United States and Britain, by the controversies surrounding the Iraq war and the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction.
That trust must be rebuilt. Presidents and prime ministers of democratic nations must be allowed private and secure dialogue as they try to resolve some of the most difficult problems the world has known.
This incompetence of the governments to protect their information does not entirely excuse WikiLeaks. However some of what has been revealed doesn’t really matter.
In my opinion, it is too early to say precisely what and when the damage the WikiLeaks revelations will do. The fact that some sensitive information is now public may bring the international community and countries touched by the website, that the international organization should agree to apply heavy sanctions and pressure.
Government reactions to WikiLeaks:
The leak of the diplomatic cables in November 2010 naturally caused more reactions in different countries than any other items WikiLeaks had published, since it also touched sensitive political issues for different governments.
US policymakers have been both critical and supportive of WikiLeaks actions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decried immediately the illegal publication of classified documents from government computers, and defended the need for “confidential space” for diplomatic conversations. In addition, she noted that people’s lives could be endangered by confidential data disclosures.
However, other governments’ reactions were considerably milder concerning the possible impacts of the leaks.
As for the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, he described WikiLeaks as “irritating and annoying for Germany”, but not a threat. However, he also defended governments’ position to hold secret information, saying “Governments also have to be able to communicate confidentially. Confidentiality and transparency are not mutually exclusive, but rather two sides of the same coin.”
In Finland politicians’ reactions were controversial. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexande Stubb, described the leaks as regrettable and stated “I support transparency and public diplomacy. However, some information between states can be sensitive. This is certainly a difficult situation.”
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erkki Tuomioja, emphasized that leaking of diplomatic cables was based on stealing of data and he saw WikiLeaks activities in this case as questionable. On the other hand, one member of the parliament, Annika Lapintie (Left Alliance) proposed a Nobel Prize for WikiLeaks!!!
Divided opinions among civil rights organizations:
WikiLeaks has also become a dividing and controversial issue also among civil rights organizations. Many organizations agree on the undeniable value that WikiLeaks has, indicated violations of human rights and civil liberties. According to Glenn Greenwald, lawyer and civil rights activist, the amount of corruption which WikiLeaks has exposed is unique in history and there is no other organization that comes close to it regarding exposures of misuse of power.
Many civil right organizations have so far openly supported the work of WikiLeaks because of these reasons. The reasoning behind their support is based on the rules and functionality of democracy and civil society. If secrecy of administrative documents is used to cover government misbehaviour, especially inhuman conditions and killing, there must be legal grounds to overcome formal borders of secrecy. This has seen as a justified way to protect democratic society and citizen against secret arbitrary government power.
Although there is largely an agreement about the value of leaked information, the strategies, tactics and mistakes of WikiLeaks have gained critics. It has also been questioned if the impact of the leaks will lead in an opposite direction than was expected: towards more secrecy and increasing restrictions. Stephen Aftergood, director of Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy said: “It has invaded personal privacy. It has published libellous material. It has violated intellectual property rights. And above all, it has launched a sweeping attack not simply on corruption, but on secrecy itself. And I think that’s both a strategic and a tactical error. It’s a strategic error because some secrecy is perfectly legitimate and desirable. It’s a tactical error because it has unleashed a furious response from the US government and other governments that I fear is likely to harm the interests of a lot of other people besides WikiLeaks who are concerned with open government. It may become harder to support protection for people who disclose and publish classified information after WikiLeaks.”
Altogether, debate on WikiLeaks has become very complex. There seems to be a pressure on taking sides for or against WikiLeaks or giving statements for them. However, it will require an analytic discussion to recognize both pros and cons in their activities.
It is difficult for civil society organizations to make clear statements for several reasons.
Firstly, WikiLeaks political activities have taken different shapes during last year’s and even many transparency activists are not behind all of them. While it is unquestionable that leaks about war crimes and prison violence have given valuable information for society, it is harder to judge the value of data from large amount of diplomatic cables.
It would require weighing an undeniable efficiency of WikiLeaks actions and validity of concerns they have revealed against their provocative and questionable ways of political action. “There is an alternative mechanism for progress”, suggested Stephen Aftergood, “So it’s really not a question of WikiLeaks or nothing. It’s a question of a smart, well-targeted approach or a reckless shotgun approach.”