The Future of Wikileaks

Wikileaks has done a lot of damage over the past year. They managed to exploit the U.S Government, the military, and major corporations. It is safe to say that wikileaks has cause a world wind of problems that has affected a lot of people dramatically. So what is the next step? Is wikileaks going to hit the world with a surprise exploitation on another company or is fight over? What has happened to the corporations affected by wikileaks?

Forbes talks about the future of Wikileaks saying, “Regardless of the military and political repercussions of WikiLeaks’ latest release, its revelations should serve as a reminder for the information security community: Chinese cyberspies or Eastern European cybercriminals may threaten your data. But a single whistle-blower with a conscience can also turn your entire organization inside out.”

It is hard to tell what is going to happen to Wikileaks. Wikileaks can use its power for good and not for corruption. They can also keep spiraling and using their knowledge out of rage.

Evgeny Morozov, an internet commentator believes that, “WikiLeaks currently stands at a crossroads: one route ahead would see a radical global network systematically challenging those in power – governments and companies alike – just for the sake of undermining “the system”. The current quest for transparency could soon become an exercise in anger, one leak at a time.”

What the Wikileaks should do and what they could do are very different things. It is hard to tell because they are so unpredictable.

In the Scientific American, Steven Aftergood a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists says, “The scope of government secrecy in the U.S., not to mention other countries, has exceeded rational boundaries, he acknowledges. Still, he adds, disabling secrecy in the name of transparency would be a sensible goal only “if it were true that all secrecy is wrong.”

All we can do is sit back an watch Wikileaks either exploit more companies and diplomats or sit back and understand that things are private for a reason and should be respected. Yes, people want to know what the government is secretly doing about international situations or what is going on behind the scenes. This is definitely a wake up call to censor a lot of documents and keep them close to people that can be trusted.  How can something so powerful be a hero to some and an enemy to most?

Bank of America vs. Wikileaks

The battle continues with Wikileaks against other corporations including Bank of America.

Bank of America is one of the nation’s largest banks. Wikileaks got a hold of some information and decided it was time to take Bank of America down. According to the New York Times, “on Nov. 29, the director of Wikileaks, Julian Assange said in an interview that he intended to “take down” a major American bank and reveal an “ecosystem of corruption” with a cache of data from an executive’s hard drive.”

Bank of America fought back and got a team of officials together and investigating thousands of documents just in case they become public. They are covering all the necessary steps to make sure they are not going to be falsely accused.

“In that October 2009 Computer World article, Assange said he had 5 gigabytes of data from the hard drive of a Bank of America executive and was determining how to present it in the most effective way.”

It is hard to tell what Assange is going to do next and how is going to release the next piece of information. Bank of America is doing the best they can to make sure they are covered. Even though Assange is backlashing at companies with very profound information, his information has been credible thus far.

He has already exposed Africa and the dumping of waste, the treatment of prisoners by the United States in Guantanamo Bay, and the private documents concerning the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

In an article in Banktech.com, Bank of America was getting the heat from twitter with two tweet from Wikileaks, “We ask that all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America” and “Does your business do business with Bank of America? Our advise is to place your funds somewhere safer.”

Assange has not specifically told the public what type of unethical actions Bank of America has done but he has said in the New York Times that, “It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume,” he said in the November 2010 interview with Forbes. “For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron e-mails.”

Bank of America has actually suffered financially because of these threats so whether the threat is legitimate or not, they have had some damage done on this private company.

There are many questions to be answered here, is Assange telling the truth? Is it legal for him to keep exposing companies and the government for what seems like pure pleasure and to get a rise of out people?

Wikileaks spills the beans

Despite warnings from the Obama administration and the FBI, creator of Wikileaks, Julian Assange made many important people angry with his decision to release highly classified information about the US government.

According to a UK article, ” Information that was previously posted on the website exposed action reports from the Iraq war that confirmed mistreatment of Iraqi insurgents and civilian deaths, but we already knew that- and this is far more substantial in what is, WikiLeaks writes, “the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain.”

This caused a complete outrage among the media, military, government, and the rest of the world. Julian Assange has gotten many people in trouble, including a US Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning. The Washington Post explains this story:

“Manning was detained in May after wikileaks.org, a Web site that aims to expose government and corporate secrets, released the video it had allegedly obtained from him. The footage, taken by cameras on U.S. Apache helicopters, shows several civilians, including two Reuters news agency employees, being killed in a U.S. strike in Iraq in July 2007.”

According to the New York Times, “Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the soldier was downloading government files. Private Manning is also said to have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.”

From the military and government intelligence point of view, they were very concerned with how people are going to portray them. They are keeping information from the public under good reason. Defense Secretary, Robert Gates speaks about the reactions of the officials in the Wall Street Journal, “the release of the documents, Mr. Gates said, potentially harmed U.S. relations with Pakistan and other countries, and put in danger Afghans who had cooperated with the U.S. Defense officials are taking steps to figure if Afghans mentioned in the documents may now require help. “That is one of the worst aspects of this: will people trust us?” Mr. Gates said.

Not only is Manning getting charged but Assange is not on good terms with government officials.

“It would have been nice had this organization had the decency to come to us and work with us to try to figure out if there’s anything in here that could endanger our forces. We were not given that luxury,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morell stated.

Wikileaks does expose freedom of speech and exposes people that are doing wrong, such as Manning but the way Assange decided to expose people was completely unacceptable.

The Man Behind the Wiki

WHO IS JULIAN ASSANGE?

Julian Assange, a genius from Australia. He is a man of many talents: publisher, journalist, software developer, and internet activist. He is the founder of one of the biggest sites in the world, Wikileaks in 2006. His purpose for the site was to provide information about governments so that they would be forced to be more open, and have free-flowing information coming at all times.

The man has influenced the internet in a way where people have the freedom to express themselves, but run the risk of exploiting people as well. In my opinion, he crossed the line on what is ethically correct. His purpose for the site was to create an open environment for the general public without the intentions of targeting a specific country, organization, or person. The internet is not a place for highly confidential government documents to be posted. Some of the reasons as to why they are classified in the first place is to protect the citizens. If they are confidential in the beginning than they should stay confidential.

He sounds like a man who could keep himself out of trouble but in fact he did the opposite.

Daniel Schmitt,  co-founder of Wikileaks describes Mr Assange as “one of the few people who really care about positive reform in this world to a level where you’re willing to do something radical to risk making a mistake, just for the sake of working on something they believe in” (BBC News).

According to Wikipedia, “He has published material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumping in Cote d’Ivoire, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer. In 2010, he published classified details about American involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On 28 November 2010, Wikileaks and its five international print media partners began publishing secret US diplomatic cables” (Wikipedia).

After exploiting many countries, even the US government, it is hard to be a man with many followers, but you be surprised how many loyal fans he has.

“The 39-year-old Australian’s backers celebrate him as a fearless champion of free speech; his critics slam him as a terrorist-enabling egomaniac pointlessly endangering lives all over the world. As Assange sits in a British jail awaiting extradition hearings on sexual assault charges in Sweden, the voices on either side of the “hero or villain” debate grow ever louder” (LIFE)

So the question stands…IS JULIAN ASSANGE A HERO OR A VILLAIN?

Many people argue that the public has the right to know information concerning Iraq, Afghanistan, and other issues affecting the United States. Those people believe that this information should not be kept secret and actually blame the government for this scandal.

Who do you think is to blame?

Wikileaks

What is considered ethical and unethical with regards to online writing? How do you know where to draw the line with information on the web?

According the the Online Journalism Review, there are 5 guidelines that should be followed to make sure your writing is ethical:

  1. No plagiarism
  2. Disclose, Disclose, Disclose
  3. No gifts or money for coverage
  4. Check it out, then tell the truth
  5. BE HONEST

The Wikileaks scandal opened a massive can of warms, and broke a lot of these guidelines. The scandal took place in the fall of 2010 in which over 250,000 highly classified information was released to the public. Information about Iran’s nuclear status was release and a lot of private information regarding the United States.

The New York Times explains the scandal in a October article, “In his remarkable journey to notoriety, Mr. Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowers’ Web site, sees the next few weeks as his most hazardous. Now he is making his most brazen disclosure yet: 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war. He held a news conference in London on Saturday, saying that the release “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”
There was a letter sent out urging the person responsible to not put up any classified information. An article on BBC News stated, “The letter from the US state department’s legal adviser Harold Koh said the release of classified state department documents was against US law and would put “countless” lives at risk” (BBC News). This scandal is effecting thousands of people and many big countries, more importantly the United States.
It has been difficult to charge someone for these violations because wikileaks goes through a lot of people. The Washington Post  article says, “Former prosecutors cautioned that prosecutions involving leaked classified information are difficult because the Espionage Act is a 1917 statute that preceded Supreme Court cases that expanded First Amendment protections. The government also would have to persuade another country to turn over Assange, who is outside the United States.”


When searching for this topic, it was pretty easy to find information about wikileaks. NY Times, CBC News, Washington Post, and much more. There is always the latest information about what is happening with the founder and the information that is being leaked.
This topic is an on going issue of what should be released to the public and what should be kept from the public to protect citizens. Many people are upset that the government has not released some of this information to begin with. The debate continues and will not stop because what is ethical to some people may not be ethical to others.

Grace Corbett

Grace Corbett is a senior at Colorado State University.  She is majoring in Technical Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations, and minoring in Business and Spanish. Grace is interning with Learning RX and is working at Ralph Lauren Polo in Loveland, CO, and Ralph Lauren Rugby in Washington D.C. Grace has volunteer experience with the Downtown Business Association in Fort Collins and El Centro.