The 4th power(-leak) of democracy

In the past few days nobody could escape the news, that a certain website who is known for publishing secret documents – such as filter/ censor lists of certain governments – leaked a whole bunch of documents (77.000) about the US war on Afghanistan between 2004 and 2009. This website is Wikileaks.

Wikileaks has been founded in 2006 as an internet platform for whistleblowing. Apart from founder Julian Assanger and spokesman Daniel Schmitt there are over 800 volunteer workers working for Wikileaks. It only pays travel costs for them and the maintenance of their IT system and survives of donations. It received several awards for new media and freedom of the press issues. The aim of Wikileaks is to publish uncensored and unmediated information which *they* think should be open to the public.

The most interesting point is not that secret information are revealed. That is what is done by a lot of news agencies. There are two things which are different. First, WikiLeaks is not there for making profit. It does not even pay salaries. Therefore, it wants to stay independent which on the one hand boosts their credibility and on the other hand allows them to publish issues which are much too hot for traditional media to publish. The second difference is, that WikiLeaks publishes information unmediated, meaning that they are publishing the files they get without just taking them as a source and publishing only a digest. At this point I do not want to discuss media competency because I think I discussed it before and it is not important at that point. Just the hint: become media competent before reading it. Media competency is the espresso which helps you to digest a unusual foreign meal.

Later, Wikileaks published a ‘mysterious’ insurance file. It is an encrypted file which is distributed via their website and torrents. Rumours say that it should be an insurance if Julian and WikiLeaks are silenced by someone…the US government or someone else. Why is that? Officials say that the revealed information endanger their troops. Probably this is true to a certain degree, this is way wikiLeaks did not publish all the documents they got. They obviously review what they publish. The point here is: the documents show how wrong traditional media was on how bad it really goes in Afghanistan. Of course the governments involved try to blame the scapegoat with a voice so loud that nobody can understand WikiLeaks voice anymore. My dear governmental friends: not happening! Once it is on the Internet, it will stay there forever (or until the cyber-doomsday) and doom the people tried to hide the wrongdoings of their country from those who elected them.

I guess Private First Class Bradley Manning taught his superiors another lesson in why IT security is so important.

Leave a Reply