Why Wikileaks matters

Wikileaks has become somewhat of a sensation since 2007 when it released a bunch of personal emails of Sarah Palin whose mailbox contents indicated that she used her private Yahoo account to send work related messages, in violation of public record laws.

Was Wikileaks right to do this? Yes, because Wikileaks didn’t do it, the information was passed onto them. I don’t believe that anyone should hack into peoples personal email accounts and anyone who does this should be dealt with according to the law, but this was not Wikileaks.

Whilst Wikileaks started with some fairly soft targets in Sarah Palin and Scientology, it hit the ground running with the Bagdad AirStrike video which showed troops seemingly enjoying the killing of, well anything that moved.

Condemnation seems to have come from all corners but particularly from our freedom loving governments and yet again from the far right, with Fox News Bill O’Reilly calling on Wikileaks leader Julian Assange to be executed. One thing people like Bill O’Reilly (and he is a lightweight on just above every major philosophical subject there is) do not understand is that we live in a society where everything the government does, from the purchasing of toothpaste to shoddy business deals are labelled “commercial in confidence” and never see the public light of day. We the public have to spend months and sometimes years to get basic information out of government departments – information I might add, that is 100% owned by the public.

I believe there should be no “commercial in confidence” laws at all, none, nada, zero. I am sure politicians and pundits like Bill O’Reilly will be able to name a few circumstances where we could all agree that it would be beneficial to have some kind of commercial in confidence arrangement, but the community good will far outweigh the bad by having a 100% open and transparent government.

I have not heard one good argument that would sway my opinion otherwise. Would companies that make hundreds of millions, sometimes billions of dollars a year from the public purse turn away that money because all dealings of that government were 100% public? Of course they wouldn’t, it seems the only people we are protecting are the politicians we elect and I suspect they like it this way.

Freedom of speech has the same issues, you are either 100% for it, or 100% against it. Do not think for one second that if you believe in only one caveat it is still freedom of speech. Once you limit speech in any way it is not a free. There of course are downsides to such freedoms. Hate speech, blasphemy, homophobic rants are often disgusting to the ear, but really, aside from the news, how often do you hear this kind of dribble?

So today Wikileaks has released hundreds of thousands of low level cables between US government officials/departments – most of which seems to be the same kind of petty chatter you would hear outside of coffee shops around the world. Yes, there will be some embarrassment and there will be some positives to come of it, but overall I can tell you I am not really that interested in the information, more so the idea of having publicly owned information actually readily available to the public.

If you disagree, then tell me, what information should be kept secret? That a leader is fat, conceited, a liar, a cheat, a crook, a thief, petty, controlling or not to be trusted? 99% of these cables confirm what everybody already knows. The other 1% maybe embarrassing, but so be it! This email I write could be embarrassing today or in years to come, get over it!

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