Welcome to the 21st Century!

Written By: - Date published: 9:11 am, December 3rd, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: democratic participation, International, interweb - Tags:

Sometimes I find it hard to believe how the leaders of this world fail to comprehend what appears so obvious to me. What is happening with Wikileaks, or more appropriately, what is about to happen, appears to be playing out along the same lines as the rise and fall of Napster.

The 21st Century, or at least the years we have enjoyed so far, should go down in history as the information age. We have seen the rapid expansion of the internet, and along with it the rise of anonymity. Wikileaks created a platform whereby anyone can submit sensitive material without fearing that their identity may be revealed. This platform, in itself not a overly difficult feat for many hardcore programmers, can be compared to the creation of Napster. People got a sniff of the idea, which was then crushed by authorities, but not before the idea turned into a necessity for the masses.

Since Wikileaks released Collateral Murder, it has been swamped with submissions. This trend will only continue to surge, and it is not difficult to see why. The mainstream media has failed in their duty to uphold the virtues that a democracy demands, and now that citizens have seen a way in which they can partake in upholding some of the most fundamental values of democracy, accountability and transparency, they are taking action into their own hands.

Noam Chomsky sums the latest cable leaks best when he stated that it reveals a “profound hatred for Democracy on the part of our Political Leadership“.

When we analyse the response toward Wikileaks by the authorities, it seems logical that they condemn it; just as those who supposedly lost millions from the rise of Napster spoke out. However, if there is one thing that should be learnt from Napster and applied to the current situation, it’s that there will be no stopping the massive flood of sensitive information to the internet.

The authorities in this situation would be wise to tread carefully in the coming months, for them Wikileaks may seem like the enemy, yet in a few years time, Wikileaks could be seen retrospectively as the lesser of two evils. At least Wikileaks attempts harm minimization before they release information, and ensure that those affected by the leak are informed prior. It seems likely that Wikileaks will be brought down at some point, but it also seems inevitable that many similiar sites will pop up to replace it.

The inability to adapt during evolving circumstances seems to be something of a pre-requisite for most of our modern day leaders, with New Zealand being no exception. The situation with Wikileaks is merely one example of this inability, unfortunately it would be too easy to write a much larger list…


12 comments on “Welcome to the 21st Century!”

  1. r0b 1

    The mainstream media has failed in their duty to uphold the virtues that a democracy demands


    Interesting post RiJaB. But is Wikileaks (and similar) here to stay? You compare them to Napster, and where is Napster now? Instead we have iTunes…

    • Bright Red 1.1

      I think that’s the point. Wikileaks has let the genie out of the bottle like Napster did. Eventually the music industry realised it had to change its model by giving the Napster experience (well, an improved experience) while retaining the abiltiy to earn some money – Itunes, Youtube etc. And you can still get non-monetised musi from bit torrent, kazaa etc

      Likewise, smart governments are going to have to react to Wikileaks by becoming open by default because even if Wikileaks goes the idea is here to stay.

    • anarcho 1.2

      Yes iTunes is capitalism’s answer to filesharing, but of course – as suggested in the post – the cat is out of the bag and if you’re stil paying for movies or music then yr a sucker.

      Make sure yr running PeerBlock though… always one step ahead 🙂

    • freedom 1.3

      I believe it is clear RiJab’s referring to the nature of the service not the site itself, and there are no shortages of sites to gather music from, just like there will be no shortage of sites to gather information from.

      Many will pose the same problems as Music file sharing. The risk of a bad file, or a mislabelled download. (Worst ever was thinking i was getting Joy Division and got a bunch of elevator tracks.)

      Some people have a cruel sense of humour on the interwebz. This will no doubt continue to be expressed but one thing that should not be expressed is the global hunger for laws that remove the current freedom of the net. Most western nations have installed, or are in the process of installing numerous laws that heavily restrict the use of the net. It is primarily an attempt to control information which is of course completely necessary to retain complete social authority.

      In the US they are very close to getting a ‘Net Kill’ switch that will not only give it the assumed authority to close sites originating in the US but any site that uses US services in its distribution. Last week for example over seventy sites were shut down including a simple search engine that links to torrent sites, a function that Google also provides yet strangely without penalty.

      Luckily, as is the want of the interwebz, a bunch of clever folk are attempting new ways to secure the future of information freedom.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Around the time the war memos were being leaked, wikileaks uploaded an encrypted 1 GB archive to their servers called “insurance”. This was subsequently downloaded and distributed throughout the world.

    If wikileaks is taken down, all that needs to come out is the decryption key, and who knows what is in that file. It seems likely all the forthcoming cables and other documents that they’ve hinted at are probably in it.

    So even if wikileaks is taken down, likely they will have one last laugh at the authorities.

  3. prism 3

    I heard media releases about items in the WLeaks and thought that anyone following political activities and attitudes would already know this stuff. Pakistan not being straightforward in its dealings, tempted to use its nuclear capacity etc. Can’t remember the summation by a British journo but something like ‘It tells us that bears live in the wild’ which I thought was an appropriate judgment.

    As for people’s lives being endangered or lost – a USA politician in a malicious fit of pique outed a USA woman agent for CIA or like, which ruined her cover and career and the effects would no doubt have spread to her contacts so they can leak what they like and damn the consequences to the state and the person. Then USA started a retributive war which was supposed to be over by Christmas but is still rolling with a high roll of deaths, injuries and hate on both sides, using USA solidiers who were peacetime recruits expecting just to be called out for Hurricane Katrina events. So do they care about endangering citizens? The words don’t connect with the actions.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    Seems the predictions in this post have already come to fruition:

    “A group of former members of WikiLeaks is planning to launch its own whistleblowing platform in mid-December, according to a German newspaper. The activists criticize WikiLeaks for concentrating too much on the US and want to take a broader approach.”


    captcha: promptly

  5. freedom 5

    Here is what Joe Lieberman wants for the Net
    Lieberman is the Seantor who got Amazon to dump Wikileaks from its servers

    Strange thing about the actions of Amazon is you kind of assume they believe in the right to free speech, considering the number of times they have gone to bat for the right to retain dodgy info on their servers. This buffet of information carried by Amazon includes IED construction, terrorist training manuals even Pedophilia guidebooks, but a site that shares corrupt and damning intelligence on the secret actions of a Government intent on deceiving its Allies and pushing the World into a Nuclear War, shit close that puppy down immediately. Amazon,YOU SUCK!!!

  6. Richard 6

    On the other hand, what wikileaks has leaked (thus far anyway, and including previous leaks) hasn’t really been *very* secret stuff.

    Assorted governments seem to be able to generally keep secret information like live force deployments, nuclear weapon activation codes, high level VIP travel itineraries, and so forth.

    What has been leaked thus far seems to be largely stuff that is “secret” more for bureacratic and face-saving/deniability reasons. There haven’t really been any shocking or operational secrets; it’s mostly stuff that is already more-or-less known, it is just normally unconfirmed.

    I would have thought that the US State Department (probably?) already operates on the assumption that this kind of widely distributed diplomatic cable service is compromised to some extent by foregin intelligence services anyway. It seems to me, that the stuff leaked via “cablegate” is stuff that State Dept. thought they could live with foreign intelligence services discovering; they’re just embarressed by the general public having apparently clear access to it.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Cablegate: US stole Afghan aid

      Back in 2007, they set up a “trust fund” to buy equipment for the Afghan army, and solicited donations from their NATO allies. They then transferred the money to the US treasury, sat on it, and charged a 15% “handling fee” into the bargain. Strangely, the Germans, who had donated 50 million Euro to the fund, weren’t too happy about this…

      No, not too scary yet but it is showing the corruption that exists at the highest levels of government.

  7. Jum 7

    Why can’t I access WikiLeaks?

    Thanks for the numbers; I’ve got them.

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    This is funny; or as wikileaks tweets it:


    Utterly surreal: Pravda justifiably criticising US for trying to stifle a free press bit.ly/hD2zst How times change.


    They get a bunch of shit wrong, but hey it’s fucking Pravda (ferchrissakes) schooling the US government on the rule of law, human rights and the freedom of the press.

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