Friday, December 10, 2010

On WikiLeaks

No, I'm not just trying to cash in on traffic from this search. But I do have an opinion here, and I wanted to share it.

I have been reading about the retaliation by hacker groups (Anonymous taking lots of credit there) who seem to be targeting those who would quiet WikiLeaks in any way. While I do agree that the site has damaged the US and the operators should be punished, I wholeheartedly disagree with commercial entities stepping in. Are you listening, Visa and Amazon?

This is a political matter, and you need to stay the hell out of it. This is new ground for many laws, so let the case be set out publicly in full understanding, and let the legal system be upgraded to handle it.

As for the hackers themselves, they have an opportunity to show restraint and still get the message across. I like this bit scoured from the web:

"We are replacing operation #payback with operation #payitforward. Hackers, please perform random acts of kindness."
This could be a great PR move, but must also be matched by governmental restraint along with open discussion. The concept at play here is how to deal with sensitive information. What's become apparent in the news is that the information released has more to do with interaction and personal tactics. The lesson for the government is to understand that the public servants need to learn a little more professionalism

That being said, if you stifle an individual's ability to share their opinion privately, you are losing much of the value of that person in making decisions. There needs to be a venue for off-the-record discussions (so, don't record them, perhaps?). Of course that flies in the face of appropriate documentation. What to do, what to do...?

Here's what I see at the moment, though I admit I have not gone hunting too much: Assange is a dick for supporting the illegal dissemination of sensitive information. Manning is a bigger dick for doing it in the first place (treason in a time of war, but not of the executable variety) this time around. The problem from the government side is releasing info to the wild does not automatically declassify it. But through Executive Order, members of the gov't (i.e., anyone authorized to handle classified info in this case) are not allowed to comment on whether something is truly classified, to what level, or what impact the release may have.

That means WikiLeaks can't legally be shut down without some serious dancing as to why and specifically what might be classified. But, the Feds should have authority to shut down the site so long as there is appropriate public justification and a closed court record. What should NEVER happen in a case like this is business getting involved without direct Federal oversite, again with legal consent. And the citizenry (global, in this case) should strive to demonstrate its power by being reasonable but firm

This is indeed sticky.

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