Wikileaks, hacking and the effect of fear on open government…

Tom Watson (not the politician) has a very perceptive piece on Julian Assange, and how hacking into government systems to free information has, in the short term at least, has created a fear factor that’s made the system less open:

Slapping up stolen emails in partnership with hackers was supposed to be the early life Assange left behind when he got religion for government reform; providing a mechanism for legitimate whistleblowers to get their stories to journalists and the public was the social entrepreneur’s golden promise behind WikiLeaks, a promise that attracted a wide range of supporters. “We Open Governments” seems so dated now, and if fairly considered, the very opposite of what WikiLeaks has accomplished.

And yet, open data seems to be what the new platforms are calling for…

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  • wee buns

    ‘How hacking into government systems to free information has, in the short term at least, has created a fear factor that’s made the system less open..’

    Cannot agree – above assumes that increased secrecy is due to Wikileaks alone and that government secrecy is sensitive to outside influences as opposed to existing for its own self serving sake. Secrecy IS Power, after all.

    Watson’s article fails to mention the unprecedented legal abuse by the US in its attempts to extradite Assange to them via Sweden, as being an added pressure to Assange & Co. Neither a mention of the Australian government’s spineless failure to attend to his rights. Omitted too are the tactics of the plastic money card multi nationals who ganged up to cripple Wikileaks and who we must assume, have a vested interest in blocking transparency.

    Murdoch never enjoyed such pressure.

    But these things are not for Watson to wonder why – he prefers to muse on two Australians as being metaphorically Greek –

    ‘’Strange then that the furies of British journalism should place the aging Agamemnon in the crosshairs of a metastasizing government inquiry into hacking at the exact moment that his metaphorical Orestes was waving a thicket of purloined emails from the podium at the Frontline Club.’’

    A bizarre observation (given the origins of white Australians) but maybe if he’d sharpened his journalistic perception – he could have been a contender.

  • Catherine Couvert

    The parallel between Wikileaks and the Murdoch empire seems a bit overstretched. It’s hard to argue against the point that Wikileaks has not, after all, managed to make governments more open, but then that is hardly surprising, as if governments could be forced to change that easily.

    The paragraph below interests me more. Interested to know if people think there is truth in it or if it seems more like wishful thinking?

    ‘The most frustrating thing about Assange’s leadership is that (…) WikiLeaks could have been a contender. In a world of needless secrets, vast corporate power and governments who rush to war, it seemed to me that a trusted and democratic organization, embracing transparency and relying on open networks, could really make a difference in how citizens relate to power. Yet secrecy, a taste for power, and rising paranoia dominated WikiLeaks.’

  • wee buns

    What’s most frustrating is that MasterCard continues its financial embargo of Wikileaks but won’t touch Murdoch – despite the fact that every charge thrown at Wikileaks has never been proven and despite the fact that Murdoch & Co. have engaged in systematic criminal activity in pursuit of information.

    The establishment never relinquishes power/secrecy voluntarily.