The great WikiLeaks scandal has less to do with the publication of state secrets sent as cables from US Embassies around the world and their supposed threat to national security and more with how the secrets got out in the first place. Whatever the motives of WikiLeaks â€˜founder, Julian Assange, he has single-handily made a mockery of the so-called secureness of top secret information.
Without wishing to get into the pros and cons of whether his actions are right or wrong, the fact is that he seems to have unlimited access to just about anything emanating from US consular sites and if he has, does that mean other, more sinister forces, do as well? Whilst government agencies are quick to point out just what a nasty little man he is, they seem to be ignoring the much bigger picture of how the info is getting out in the first place, and on such a scale. Sure, it’s embarrassing to read on the Internet what senior leaders think about each other and what countries fear about the neighbors, but the fact the info got out in the first place is of much greater concern.
For the telecommunications industry, and net neutrality in particular, the fragile arguments in its favor have totally collapsed in a matter of days. Yes, many countries already practice some form of net censorship, but having US authorities force the closure of WikiLeaksâ€™ Amazon hosted sites andÂ presumably launching countless denial of service attacks against WikiLeaks, kicks the neutrality argument fair in the teeth.
The Insider hasnâ€™t read all the juicy disclosures but those getting the most press seem to reinforce what most reasonably intelligent people probably thought anyway. Sure, Iran’s neighbors were nervous about its nuclear capability and what a surprise that the Russian government allegedly has links to that country’s infamous mafia-like organizations. Not to mention fears that Pakistan’s nuclear facilities might be of interest to terrorists active in that country. But that’s just the content. It is the independence of the internet that is now most under threat.
How hypocritical will it now be for regulators to push for net neutrality when governments, particularly that of the USA, have resorted to extreme measures in the case of WikiLeaks, to make those arguments farcical. No doubt we will end with one set of rules for commercial and private use of the Internet and another for governments. That sounds about right, doesn’t it?
Your argument can’t be faulted or improved. Well done. Neutrality-except-for-such-and-such-content simply isn’t neutrality.
It is especially telling that one of cable leaks revealed the British Primeminister offered the American government a deal over hacker Gary McKinnon. Instead of McKinnon being extradited to the US under counter-terrorism legislation (a man who spends hours in his bedroom searching for secrets about UFOs is not a terrorist), Gordon Brown offered that McKinnon would serve his prison sentence in the UK. Brown’s concern was that McKinnon should receive medical attention and family support in the UK, reducing the risk the Asperger’s Syndrome sufferer would commit suicide. The Americans government rebuffed it, though throughout this Wikileaks affair they have consistently focused on the threat to human life as their paramount concern. Their attitude to McKinnon, as in the Wikileaks affair, seems to be more about broadly controlling information flows in society at large as a compensation for poor security at the source. Furthermore, there is very little genuinely surprising in any of the latest leaks, and stories about Sarkozy chasing his son’s pet rabbit actually make him more likable. The biggest shocks, like journalists killed by helicopter gunships, were released a while back. Closing servers now just looks like intimidation, which makes a mockery of how another US company, Google, tried to stand up for freedom in China.