Wikileaks: The Secret Killer

For those who have not heard about Wikileaks, it is a non-profit organization whose aim is to inform the public of news and information. It provides an “innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists.” Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange has claimed to be a journalist, but also acts as an activist. His goal is to make available all information available for the public; for the truth to be known for all so that justice is brought. This at first sight seems like a noble ideal; for justice to be brought upon those that have done wrong. However, we also need to discuss the complexities of all information being made available to any member of the public.

One of the major events that have characterized Wikileaks is the publication of 250,000 U.S government cables in February 2010. These were records made by U.S diplomats abroad that were communicated back to the U.S government describing the political situations of different countries. Some of these cables also described in great detail the personal information and habits of foreign leaders and their senior officials. The video below produced by the BBC outlines just a few of the cables that were released and the damaging impact these cables have had on U.S foreign relations.

These cables were classified information that was leaked to Wikileaks to be published. No matter how much desire we have for truth and freedom information, it is important to understand that some things need to be kept secret. Assange and Wikileaks advocate the right for freedom of information, but doesn’t each individual also have the basic human right to their own privacy? These cables were private communications between diplomats and their superiors back in the U.S. They should have the right to keep their conversations in private if that is what they desire. Our basic rights for self privacy should not be superseded by the rights of other’s under freedom of information. We are the bearer’s and owners of information and it should be ourselves who determine whether this information should be kept to ourselves or made available for the public. We all have secrets that we want to keep and I am sure that none of us would like those secrets to go public.

Cover Image: http://bit.ly/176Azlg

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13 thoughts on “Wikileaks: The Secret Killer

  1. I watched the documentary that you imbedded and really enjoyed it. I love the idea that governments can be held accountable for their actions, but releasing private conversations that are purely for gossip just doesn’t sit well with me. I also believe that there are times when leaking information is not only inappropriate, but actually irrelevant altogether. Things like the release of individuals health records. How can that ever truly be justified? There is a fantastic article that weights up this argument (http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/12/21/muller-what-wikileaks-means-for-media-ethics/) which I think you’d enjoy. Wikileaks is a fantastic concept in theory, but I can’t help but think that maybe sometimes it is just doing a little more harm than good. There’s a need for it, yes, to regulate and almost purely as a warning, but I do think it has gone too far, and we need to really decide whether or not something needs to be published a little more thoroughly.

  2. I completely agree with you. Privacy allows us to maintain a certain image, something that is particularly important for government. The public does not need to see every conversation that goes on between diplomats. The information that needs to be transparent are key issues, like the Collateral Murder video and information on asylum seeker arrivals (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-22/government-to-hold-weekly-asylum-seeker-briefings-says-morrison/4973512). Public interest and privacy have been two jarring topics in media for a long time. I believe Wikileaks has taken the most extreme view on the topic, that everything is fair game irrelevant of the consequences.

  3. I think that documentary is very interesting, although I fall in a sleep when I was half way through. I think leaking information is such a controversial topic, on one side it’s the nature of the network society and we all love to explore someone’s secret. On the other hand it is extremely inappropriate and unethical. I guess that’s also the reason why people try to create multiple or fake identities on the Internet because you never want some random citizens know your hair actually look sexy push back (http://goo.gl/kQjk8t).

  4. I certainly agree with you. I have spent time in the military and understand fully how discretion needs to be used in what information is made public and what should be kept confidential. In terms of personal information I believe that we all hold the right to keep this out of the public domain, in instances where it does not harm or incriminate others. The leaking of government information, whilst valuable in exposing wrongdoings, needs to be rationally summed up with the greater good. If leaking a secret meant starting a third world war, is it worth it? Transparency in governance is paramount, but the public needs to understand that all governments have secrets, just like people, that need to remain confidential. Wikileaks has done us a valuable service in exposing some of the wrongdoings of the U.S. government. Whether this will lead to greater good or harm is not yet clear.

  5. I checked out the doco you embedded in the post and I found it very interesting, top notch.

    I’m all for WIkileaks and the publicisation of information, but I agree with you when it comes to personal privacy. Why does the public need to hear private conversations? Just because the people who had these conversations were diplomats and other people higher up on the food chain, doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to have some sort of privacy in their lives. When it comes to government’s keeping secrets, such as covering up accidents or Armed Forces actions, then by all means let the public know, but why should our personal privacy be invaded?

  6. I generally am in favor of wiki leaks and Assange, but you right they have released things that shouldn’t have been. However I’m still glad they exist. Freedom of information is one of those tricky concept because most would agree there are times when a government should keep its cards close to its chest. These aren’t necessarily terrible secrets, but are secrets worth keeping none the less. The trouble is that there is no way to know what the secrets are until they have been uncovered and in some cases they needed to be revealed. I don’t think they should have released personal stuff, but I’m also don’t want wiki leaks to stop what they’re doing.

  7. You’re right in admitting the cases of corruption and scandal. There are events that the government or corporation hid out of greed or gain, there are secrets in all facets of life not just political. But I am so glad you can see that every time information is ‘hacked’ our overall security and privacy are put at risk too. There are as many (more?) crime based hacks, looking for identities, money or information, than there are hackers who truly believe in freedom of information and justify their actions as activism.

    It is just that those ‘hacktivists’ Anonymous and Assange who become symbols or martyrs for the term. They have succeeded in doing good (http://blog.trendmicro.com/hacktivism-the-good-bad-and-ugly-of-cybercriminals-with-a-message/) but they can use the few benefits to justify the great risks they put on individual privacy, national security and international relations.

  8. I unfortunately only got to watch about half of the documentary but what I watched of it was extremely interesting. I agree that whilst people do have a right to know what is going on with their country and their people, however I also believe that it can be necessary to keep some information private. The idea that private conversations can be leaked and shared for the soul purpose of creating gossip which will help in selling newspapers and magazines.
    The purpose of the gossip would obviously be to create people sharing their secrets and fears and in turn reveal their strengths and weaknesses. This would obviously become very dangerous for those political figures in some much higher roles.
    http://www.imediaethics.org/News/1139/Wikileaks_causes_media_ethics_discussions__.php
    This article is about the ethics discussions that have come about as a result of the information that Wiki-leaks has brought to light. It has people questioning the good that Wiki-leaks intend to bring to the world by dragging some innocent victims through the mud.

  9. You ask, “doesn’t each individual also have the basic human right to their own privacy?” This is a fair question, but possibly one to be asked about the new iOS7 update which is able to detect when you have entered your home, or the new xbox one which can’t be turned off. In my opinion (which is hardly carved in stone), I don’t think individual privacy exists when a politician is discussing information regarding foreign policies and relations. When actions and events impact hundreds of thousands of people, I don’t believe we can simply say ‘We’ll ignore what he said; he needs his privacy.”
    I am aware that the release of certain information has the potential to literally start wars. I don’t mean to sound like a mother, but if you don’t want anyone to find out that you’ve done something, you probably shouldn’t have done it in the first place.
    In the West, we seem to have the opinion that we are above reproach. Being a patriotic nation, we often have the rational that our government and soldiers can do no wrong. Wikileaks has enlightened us with real, albeit sobering, scenarios in which Australia’s and America’s governments have made critical errors in judgement. I believe that we as a nation have the right to know what our government doesn’t want us to.

  10. It is such a tricky territory to decipher. I personally am in favour of Assange’s motives and his goal for Wikileaks. I believe that information should be free but where does the line between information and personal conversation start or end? Wikileaks definitely has support from people who also believe that the public has a right to information, https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/47927, however it is hard to determine what is classified as information fit for the public. If I told someone something in confidentiality even if it was not of harm to the public I would still not want the public finding out. A lot of Wikileaks stories have stemmed from personal conversations and this is where morals and ethics come into it, further confusing the debate. What is right and what is wrong has not yet been a globally accepted thing therefore, for now you have to be either for or against the freedom of information.

  11. I completely agree with your views on hacking. I believe that people do have the right to secrets but i do believe some secrets have to be told, especially if these secrets are impacting a community. I think that wikileaks does a great job on delivering information even though some times it may not exactly be ethical. Other hacking organisations such as anonymous also follow this form of hacking as they also believe all information should be free, etc, I believe these two organisations are doing a great job at hacking big companies to benefit the public.

  12. I disagree with your post. While the right to privacy is definitely great for individuals, I think that the line stops blurring once murder comes into play – let alone slaughter. Check out this footage leaked by Wikileaks (heavy violence warning): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTc97BR_wQs, if I had access to this footage, I like to think there is no way I would respect the privacy of the soldiers and the government; they are massacring civilians by the dozens. If I woke up one night to a perfect view of my neighbour being killed, and I had footage to prove who killed my neighbour, I would not even consider the right to privacy for the murderer.

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