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…