Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wikileaks: A Threat or a Friend

Wikileaks is a website which publishes secret documents in order to promote government, corporate, and general transparency.  Wikileaks has raised a number of questions regarding fair-internet usage, government transparency, and corporate responsibility.

The combination of these issues is why I want to do my final research topic on Wikileaks.  Wikileaks has sparked one of the most controversial internet conversations and fueled the debate between privacy and transparency.  The question I want to [attempt] to answer surrounds the use of Wikileaks: should Wikileaks be allowed to leak cables, even though they may contain sensitive information, in the name of transparency?

Wikileaks operates under the mission that every cable and government document should be public regardless of the information it contains.  The cables linked up to this point include documents as harmless as Wikileaks condemnation of Unesco to the video "collateral murder" which is a video of us soldiers shooting at what seems to be civilians.  Wikileaks uncensored and unbiased approach to publishing these documents has only increased the debate surrounding the website.

Wikileaks raises issues surrounding internet use, transparency, censorship, government and corporate responsibility, and the power of the internet in the hands of the people.  Wikileaks has forced governments and corporations to rethink their security measures and has opened the eyes of the internet public to the realization of transparency.  these factors and issues are the bare minimum of the issues Wikileaks has brought attention to; I want to delve deeper into these issues and determine the effect of the Wikileaks model on the government, corporations, the public, and internet users. 

If anyone wants more information the website is 


  1. Great topic, maybe you should narrow down your research question though.
    It sounds very interesting.

  2. That's a really good topic. You should also look at the prosecution of that soldier (I forget his name) who's being punished for leaking a bunch of documents, he's being treated pretty badly, solitary confinement, etc.

  3. I think this is a fantastic media entity to look at. I am especially drawn to the ethical implications between those contributing and being exposed on the website. When I first looked at this while abroad, the creator, Julian Assange, was in a legal battle over the national security threat that his website posed. How we approached the subject in my history of espionage course was trying to understand how his work was beneficial in the context of a democratic, post-modern society. In this way, Wikileaks allows for "the press" to keep governments accountable and works across nation-state borders and creates a greater global community of active, observant citizens. I believe that the relationship of posters-government-observers could be interesting to develop upon and recognize how these three identities are influenced by Wikileaks and how those affect action and consequences. Here is an interview I found that could be helpful:

  4. Colin, this is a truly awesome topic. I love the political side of media, so this really relates to my topic as well. As a jumping off point, you should look into The Pentagon Papers as a sort of precursor to Wikileaks.

  5. I agree with Kristie that looking at the Pentagon Papers is a good starting point because it establishes a legal precedent related to WikiLeaks. I also think it's interesting to look at how the New York Time's position has changes on WikiLeaks (and how it contradicts their position with the Pentagon Papers).

    Also, if you are interested in the groups that have been associated with WikiLeaks, like Anonymous, you could discuss how these large online and anonymous connections feel especially threatening.