Wikileaks caused then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a major headache in 2010 when the whistleblower site released a massive throve of US State Department diplomatic cables. Where the hacked documents may have done more to provide transparency into the workings of the US State Department than actually hurt the US government, even though the embarrassment did give America’s foreign partners greater leverage over the United States, the massive data dump of hacked-Clinton documents is clearly a threat to the Presidential candidate’s career.
With Republican nominee Donald Trump as her competitor, however, this latest release from Wikileaks will do little to actually upset the outcome of the US Presidential Election. After all, Donald Trump has managed to create a constant stream of controversies throughout the 2016 Presidential Election that stolen the focus from Hillary Clinton’s own controversies. If anything, the Wikileaks dump will demoralize already demoralized US voters, thereby dissuading even more American voters from participating in the upcoming election. On the other hand, the manner in which Wikileaks disproportionately targets the US and American figures makes Wikileaks a disruptive force instead of a conduit for transparency.
Wikileaks was created to be a facilitator of transparently and government accountability, thereby leveling the playing field in terms of encouraging proper governance by the American People. As such, Wikileaks does not seek to filter, analyze, or skew data; however, the tendency of Wikileaks to target US secrets is turning the site into a disruptive anti-American movement. The US may be the most powerful nation in the world, thus making its actions important to all, but it must play by international rules and Wikileaks' biased attacks on US secrets give other nations greater leverage. To play its proper objective role, Wikileaks must crack the secrets of other nations in such large quantities; otherwise, Wikileaks is simply a means of promoting anti-American sentiment.
With too much focus on American secrets, Wikileaks ultimately risks becoming a puppet for those who wish to undermine US power and interests. The fact that Russia was likely responsible for the hacking of the documents dumped by Wikileaks demonstrates how information can be used to strategically influence political issues. Consequently, Wikileaks must stay true to its core mission by more evenly obtaining and dumping data from other countries, especially countries where government secrecy is an absolute. Where the efforts of hackers can provide beneficial transparency, the strategic, one-sided release of documents featuring Hillary Clinton allows hackers to bolster the standing of their preferred candidates.
Clearly, Russia’s alleged manipulation of hacked documents serves as an example of how the strategic release of key information can be used to manipulate public sentiment. The goal of Russia is to paint American democracy as a lie and showcase America’s shortcomings with this one-sided use of leaked information. At the same time, Russia suppresses the flow of information to suppress criticism of Russia’s problems and wrongdoings. Although the strategic release and suppression of information is nothing new, the massive amount of information available on the internet leaves a false impression that all the facts are known, even if vital information is hidden.
Cyberspace is a lawless land where criminals, corporations, and governments find themselves on equal footing as they vie for control of the modern world’s most valuable commodity: information. On the worldwide web, power depends on technical knowledge and skill. The United States might be the most powerful nation in the real world based on economic and military might, but the US is equal to Turkey, Israel, Iran, Russia, and China in the digital realm. The internet is a great equalizer when it comes to the powerful; however, the anarchy of the internet leaves the world vulnerable to the wrongs of those who have mastered cyberspace.
China’s crackdown on internet journalism serves as another example where an abusive government is seeking to suppress information in order to craft an official record of current events. By seizing control of all media outlets, governments like that of Turkey also seek to legitimize their propaganda by engineering “professional,” implicitly “unbiased” coverage of events. In countries like the US, this is done when the owners of liberal and conservative media outlets hire journalists and analysts who share the beliefs of their owners and managers.
With the economics of the information age favoring already established media outlets and websites that cater to national/international populations, the internet is too often used to reinforce, instead of dispel, misinformation. That said, government needs the People to trust government and the People need to be able to trust government. Unfortunately, the need to trust government is too often misaligned with the reality that government cannot be trusted. After all, the role of modern government is to properly address and balance the interests of all the People(s) of a nation. This requires the People have effective representation of their views and interests in government.
It also requires a culture of transparency where public officials understand even the deepest of government secrets will eventually be revealed to the public. People speak freely and honestly when they feel safe enough to express their true beliefs and thoughts without reprisal. The internet is one place where most people can express their true interests, which is necessary for democracy and society to thrive. There is, however, a need to balance transparency and privacy on the internet in such a way that the weak are protected from intrusion and the affluent are revealed when they plot against the Peoples of the world.
In other words, there is a need to preserve cyberspace from the intrusion and secrecy of abusive powers in order to empower the weak and voiceless. Proper structure is needed to promote security, stability, and growth, yet the internet lacks structure where it needs it. Every country/community lacking a strong “constitutional” structure, where freedoms and rights are broadly defined alongside limits for authorities and the structure of governance, i.e. Law, has been corrupted, has ended in the abuse of residents, i.e. users, and ultimately failed, whether that nation was an authoritarian regime or a democratic republic.
Regrettably, there is no balance on the internet when it comes to regulation and freedom, which means the internet is unpoliced and lacks a “constitutional” structure to provide for the rights of individuals, businesses, governments, and other organizations. Not only must governments be restricted on what they can do with the internet and user data, they must also be given a well defined structure for addressing national interests when it comes to information technology. Consequently, the internet must have some form of regulation and protection offered by a consensus of world governments, if the internet is to remain free for all the Peoples of the world. It also needs sites like Wikileaks to actually provide balanced, objective, and complete data.
Read old posts