Prior to the recent major events surrounding the release of 250k classified documents by Wikileaks on Julian Assange authority, I had browsed Wikileaks and discovered rarely any information that provided anything more than “tabloid style” unverified references as proof of their authenticity.
With the release of these recent government documents, based on the international reaction, it is now clear at least some, if not all of these documents are in fact valid and not tabloids or conspiracy theories after all.
Assange has made many statements regarding his reasons behind releasing these documents, but overall, in my opinion, the manner in which these documents have been released is of malicious intent, and if “free speech” and “free information” was the goal, the information should have been made available in timed released spurts in accordance with government and/or traditional press.
Aside from the implications of the content released, this establishes a dangerous precedence in which other groups of mass whistle-blowers and spies may attempt to leak sensitive information. This is already apparent with the recent launch of a similar site – “Indo Leaks”.
The question that poses itself now is how the government should handle the situation both locally and internationally; not just with the WikiLeaks situation, but also with proposed policies on future international electronic leaks of similar nature.
Ultimately, the way Assange is handled may be the determining factor in these policies, but the procedures that dictate justice in this instance are complex and not necessarily straight forward. I’m sure many minds with legal experience greater than mine will speculate on this, but aside from humanist values to consider, there are also technological factors which should go under careful and thorough investigation to avoid accidentally implementing regulations that could impact technological growth.
As the internet fades the lines between nations there will be many difficulties to face, as a nation and as an individual. With every technology, there is potential misuse and regulation. However, we should use our behavior historically as a civilization to remember that extreme regulation on technology only limits growth.