So tonight I would like to respond to fellow blogger Mike Halsey of GHacks.net. He wrote a blog post about this same topic but takes, in my opinion, a view that can only be described as promoting censorship.
Before we come to his post though, we must run a brief overview on what Wikileaks is and what happened today. Wikileaks is a non-profit website that posts confidential government documents it has obtained through anonymous sources. The article that was going to be released involved information and the writings of US ambassadors about other countries, the threat of nuclear terrorism and back room deals with foreign embassies.
But today a curious thing occurred, the site was allegedly DDoSed. A DDoS, “distributed denial-of-service attack”, is when a large amount of computers all flood one site with huge amounts of information. If enough information is “pinged” to the site, the site cannot support all of it and thus crashes which was the case earlier today.
But now we will talk about Mike Halsey’s post. In his post he mentioned that “Most people agree that sometimes it’s just better not to know a fact, and to live in ignorance of it.” If we are being willfully ignorant and not wanting to know something just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t that make us cowardly? Draping ourselves in the blanket of ignorance is good for children but if we don’t want to learn, then we are opening the door to a society that will not value free speech and knowledge. If we choose to be ignorant then a government that controls the flow of information is close behind and that is certainly not “the american way”.
Mike also mentioned that because the staff of Wikileaks hadn’t witnessed wars or suffering first hand, they had no way of understanding it. But when you run an operation like they do where you get information that was hidden by the government you DO see the horror that does occur behind closed doors. You may not see people being killed in the streets but you see the shady dealings of the people behind those wars.
Information, in some cases, may indeed lead to lose of life and don’t get me wrong, nobody should die over information, but having things that the government has done available for the public to see is a way of regulating the government. If the government covered up everything we would have no way to see what was occurring and thus we would be victim to a totalitarian state.
Now of course there is some information that should be kept secret like the names of undercover agents. If those were revealed, their lives would be directly at risk, but revealing what ambassadors have to say about nuclear terrorism is not directly putting lives in danger.
At the end of Mike’s post he says that he doesn’t care whether it was hackers or the US government, he just hopes they succeed. Hoping that somebody who promotes unwarranted censorship succeeds is undermining the western value of free speech and that is unacceptable. But I would like to know what you think. Please leave a comment below 🙂