Sorry to go to “all WikiLeaks, all the time” lately but this story really interests me for all the implications it has in a number of areas – from world politics to freedom of speech to corporate power to the overarching impact of the Internet in each of those realms.
Here’s another editorial which I think is spot-on. People who are against WikiLeaks’ actions by saying “those were SECRETS!” or “This now puts lives in DANGER!” are buying the government’s line way too easily in my opinion. I’m no huge conspiracy theorist but I do think that governments can often act in ways that would be illegal if done by a private citizen and that corporations often abuse their own power as well.
For example, for all the pundits calling “TERRORISM!!!” because Anonymous went after Visa/Mastercard/PayPal, did anyone stop to think that those companies wouldn’t have been attacked if they hadn’t knee-jerked to pull services for WikiLeaks under government pressure? I’d give a similar answer for those who say Anonymous only defends freedom of speech when it’s a cause they believe in and those companies have a right to set their own policies and act on them (eg. their own right to some corporate version of “free speech”.)
Finally, there’s also a whole “David v. Goliath” element to the reaction of the online community that I’m very sympathetic to. I mean, it turned out to be a 16-year old Dutch kid (and 2000 or so of his “friends”) who brought down Visa’s web site.
(I won’t even start speculating on how the use of the Internet may change the belief system of future generations. In many ways, the idealistic boomers became the thing they hated as they easily moved from the protest lines to the halls of power. Could the Internet prevent the same thing from happening to the upcoming generation?)