WikiLeaks: National Security Threat or a Revolution in Information Dissemination?

 

I’m torn when it comes to the WikiLeaks debacle. I’m all for the freedom of information; for example, I’m a firm believer in softening copyright and trademark restrictions throughout the world and I take a very serious interest in the teachings of Lawrence Lessig who believes in the same thing (to speak very generally). However, I think that these leaks (especially from my own biased American perspective) go too far in exposing top secret information to the public sphere.

One positive way to think about WikiLeaks is that, as an academic and as a researcher, this massive amount of information provides us with more knowledge than we were once privy to, which is always a plus in academia. It also spits in the face of traditional matters of diplomacy and begs the question as to whether or not people like Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, are releasing information like this in order to defy and revolutionize the way information gets released from the government to the people. This may very well change the way citizens of the world who live in the Information Age go about policing our governments.

However, to play Devil’s advocate, although there is now a wealth of information on international diplomatic relations due to WikiLeaks, this debacle could put a freeze on such information leakage in the future because foreign governments will be more hard-nosed when it comes to keeping their information secure. This is not to say that leaks will not happen in the future. What will most likely happen is that it will be years or even decades before a gold mine of information such as this reappears. WikiLeaks will change the way foreign diplomats will disclose information to US diplomats by stymieing the flow of information. It will also change the way US citizens will view their government and government officials. US citizens already have a healthy (and rightfully so) skeptical view of their government, but leaks like this hurt the trust we as Americans have in our government even further. The same goes for foreign citizens who view the United States government in the same way.

So is WikiLeaks a good thing because the site is acting as a revolutionary watchdog of world powers by exposing their foreign relations practices to the rest of the world? Or is this a threat to national security on a world-wide scale? Personally from an American perspective, I think that our media does enough to watch over our government (as it has done for decades). Our government shouldn’t be micromanaged any more than I need to be micromanaged at work. And oh and how I fucking despise being micromanaged!

Like I said before, I’m all about the freedom of information, but top secret government information is top secret for a reason. I can only speak for my own country, so with the United States in mind it would behoove American citizens to trust in their traditional media watchdogs rather than trust the nebulous mission of WikiLeaks whose disclosure of top secret government information does more to hurt international relations than it does to revolutionize media dissemination.

So what say you, oh all-knowing interweb peoples? Yay or Nay on WikiLeaks?