Freedom of speech or a breach to national security?

wikileaks2Image Source: KQED

Hacktivism is  now a subculture phenomenon especially recently in regards to Wikileaks. Julian Assange started up Wikileaks under the pretence of ‘freedom of information’. Wikileaks aim was to leak classified Government documents and leak them to the public.  Assange believed individuals had a right to know what their Governments were doing, for example he felt it was a civilians right to know about Project B (Khatchadourian 2010). Project B was the code name for the 30 minute long video from an Apache military helicopter cockpit in Iraq showing American soldiers killing innocent individuals (Khatchadourian 2010).  Footage like this perhaps should be made public to make the American Army accountable for their actions against un-armed civilians. But what about the secret documents that have been accessed and released? What implications could this have?

Firstly the main implication is terrorists having access to these secure documents, clearly posing a threat to national security. As Street (2011 p.264) states, “terrorists too take advantage of the possibilities created by the new media”, Street refers to the new media as all new online publications such as Wikileaks, Streets statement provides strong argument that if others are taking advantage of looking at documents posted by Wikileaks why wouldn’t terrorists? Though a significant difference between the average individual viewing these documents and a terrorist is that a terrorist might be able to use this information to formulate an attack, thus, I believe Wikileaks could be viewed as breaching a nation’s security. However, on the other side of the spectrum this aids in a democratic society informing citizens, which is what makes a democratic society work to its full potential, as citizens would be able to make informed decisions. Wikileaks not only provides a space for public debate but also informs citizens on the actions of their Governments. Thus, it can be argued that Wikileaks presents a democratic society.

Of-course there are other types of hackers such as the group known as Anonymous and general hackers which are aiming to steal individuals bank details to use maliciously. These are the hackers which I have a clear stance on, I find these hackers to be criminals and unethical. Contrast this to Wikileaks I am in two minds due to my reasons above. Wikileaks is not a straightforward hacktivism it is; freedom of information activism verging on breaching multiple countries national security.

Thus, where should we draw the line between freedom of speech and hacking that can potentially endanger national security?

-Amy

Reference:

Khatchadourian, R. (2010) ‘No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency’ The New Yorker

Street, J 2011, Mass Media, Politics and Democracy, Palgrave and Macmillian, Hampshire United Kingdom.

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7 thoughts on “Freedom of speech or a breach to national security?

  1. Hacking could be viewed in the same way any potentially dangerous act. If done according to ethical codes of conduct and in the pursuit of truth etc then I have no problem with it. Wikileaks’ operations claim to uphold the interests of global citizens and if it contradicts itself by compromising the safety of these citizens, it would mean a conflict of interest is there. More arguments discussed in this short blog: – http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/11/30/mcnulty.wikileaks.journalism/index.html

  2. While Wikileaks is a step forward in uncovering supposed conspiracies, the reality of it is, what has changed? All that has happened is the reinforcement of “If you leak information, you will be punished”. Bradley Manning is facing 30 years, what sane person would follow in his footsteps? What Bradley Manning uncovered should have put the people responsible in trouble, yet it only got him jail time. All the information leaking about the NSA has done is scared people silent, it’s not encouraging people to come forward. In my opinion, the information leaking his helped the NSA, not hindered it.

  3. You make a really good point on where the line should be drawn between freedom of speech and threats to national security. I feel as though a lot of people, caught up in the hype and excitement of Wikileaks, tend to forget how dangerous the leaked information could be in the wrong hands. That being said, I do agree with a lot of Assange’s motives, i.e. making the injustices of the U.S. military known to the public, but doing this without threatening national security is ridiculously risky (especially with the sheer number of documents they’ve leaked).

  4. I definitely understand where you’re coming from in terms of talking about a breach of national security, with Assange having to steal information from the government. However, I believe that he would be justified in those actions because of the poor people who died while the government hid information from the public eye, information that would clearly cause an outrage at the poor mistreatment of those in third world countries.

  5. You know, even though they breach national security, wikileaks is still the best thing to happen in this world. Without trying they have exposed so much wrong that the american government has basically approved with the way the army acted in Iraq and Afghanistan and what the NSA has been doing in their homeland. Assange and wikileaks are heros for what they have done and has instigated the public uprising they wanted.

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