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WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and the dark side of Internet freedom

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Only if we, or he himself, knew his theoretical template of a totally free information society could we then draw limits on what is acceptable or not.

Geopolitical fallout

Gardels: What is the likely geopolitical outcome down the road from this latest WikiLeaks episode?

Will it pit not only more closed societies against open societies, but also open societies with secrets against the extreme glasnostics – a kind of three-tiered clash of information cultures?

In the end, will it make closed societies more open and open societies more closed? Or, will it make everyone more closed?

Morozov: I think it will be intelligence gathering – and especially intelligence sharing – rather than diplomacy per se that would suffer the most. The reason why the current batch of cables got released in the first place was lax security; with a few million people having access to these files, it’s really surprising that it took so many years for someone like [alleged leaker] Bradley Manning to actually release them to Assange. But this could have happened even before WikiLeaks took off the ground a few years ago; these cables may have just been sent to the Guardian or El Pais directly. So in all likelihood we’ll see a more granular approach to setting permissions as to who gets access to what kind of data. Ambassadors will keep talking.

This, however, is not the most interesting geopolitical aspect to the WikiLeaks story. What I found most interesting in the 10 or so days since the files were released was the pressure that various American and some European politicians tried to exert on various Internet intermediaries that were offering their services to WikiLeaks. Some of those efforts paid off – with Amazon and PayPal dropping WikiLeaks as a client. This, of course, looks very suspicious to many computer geeks, who are already often very suspicious of governments.

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