Saturday, September 03, 2011

Extortion by government and WikiLeaks

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WikiLeaks is back in the new with reports that it has released a 2nd encrypted file to its supporters. It seems probable that these 'secret files' contain embarrassing information for various governments around the world. It is interesting to reflect upon the moral legitimacy of the US and WikiLeaks actions over this 'privacy' tussle. The issues as I see them:
1. The government is supposed to be a custodian of the people's moral issues
2. The government ought to act in good faith to protect citizens
WikiLeaks, as a private agency is challenging that moral authority, or more accurately, challenging the way in which they exercise their moral legitimacy; whether its a question of methodology or organisation is not clear.

The problem for me with WikiLeaks actions is that not all of their 'leaks' make an intellectual argument. i.e. Some times they seem more interested in embarrassing or discrediting government for the wrong or ambiguous reasons. At the same time, they have themselves released information which was unfair to the interests of certain members of the community. The best example I am aware of is their disclosure of banking details for people with accounts in secretive tax havens in Switzerland. They are assuming that breaking tax laws is illegitimate at a time when they are challenging the legitimacy of the governments actions. By making 'the law' the standard of value, they are undermining their own legitimacy; as the government will probably have some statutory justification for doing what they are doing. For this reason, by asserting 'statutes', they are digressing from moral principles. i.e. Undermining their own position.

The implication of this issue is that we have two powerful authorities using the threat of injury to defeat the other. My expectation is that WikiLeaks will win their debate. Western governments will be forced to acquiesce. Not the best approach, but sadly, what do you expect with a democratic system of government, in which reason is not the standard of value.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?