Thursday, 16 December 2010

Wikileaks is Personal: Part II

I took a crack at explaining why the Wikileaks document dumps could have a negative effect on the individual, specifically anyone employed in the public service.  I still stand by my assertion that people have an expectation of privacy in everything they do, even in the public arena.  We expect that there is a natural lower limit on the people that will read and digest any of our communications.  Publicizing to a wider audience can cause people to withdraw or otherwise avoid the circumstances that caused the publication of communications.

What I left out was the fear factor imposed by our systems of authority.  This is more damaging as it is an abuse of power that can often go unchecked.  For every publicly reported occurrence, you can bet there are many more that go unreported.

Now that the US Government is looking to manufacture a charge of conspiracy against Assange, this shows a serious attempt to scare off any other whistle blowers.  Reveal the truth and we will hunt you down.

So what we have is fear working in both directions.  US government staffers are most certainly going to get new orders on how, when and where to disseminate information, and people may think twice before communicating anything in an effort to retain privacy and we have the heavy hand of the state promising punishment for participating in the dissemination of information.

You may interpret this that I am condemning Wikileaks, that I am not.  I am not attempting to pass judgement on it one way or the other, I am merely observing.  (Though I am on the supportive side of Assange and Wikileaks.)

I do not know how far-reaching or permanent the effects on the individual will be, at this point I think they will be short lived, if spectacularly over-wrought through the actions of governments world-wide.  But if this goes on long enough, I think it is safe to say that we will have entered a new age of fear, fear of our governments and fear of each other.

Kinda sounds like the USSR of old now don't it?

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