The rise of our digitally-focused world has given way to controversy, surveillance and revolutionaries. There are currently 3.17 billion people who have access to the internet, all of whom have differing freedoms and capabilities. As these numbers continue to grow and gain an understanding of how powerful this cyberspace is, the prominence of individual nodes will continue to influence.
Individual nodes is anyone and everyone within this digital sphere asserting their influence, opinion and critique. This is highlighted in the sharing of documents from Wikileaks, a non-profit website dedicated to leaking government and business-related information perceived to be in the “public’s interest”. The reason why i put public interest in quotation marks is that it is a deeply dividing topic that crosses the boundaries of national security, freedom of speech and both international and national legalities. The three most well known whistleblowers are Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden; Assange being the founder of Wikileaks, Manning a US Army Private who leaked military secrets and Snowden who blew the lid off the National Security Agency (NSA) spying activities. It would be suffice to say that these three men, regardless of your position upon their activities, are examples of cyber-libertarians; for they promote the ideals of information freedom and have little regard for the State. And, like Libertarian and Presidential-candidate Rand Paul states;
However, these three men are alike in others ways besides their whistleblowing activities; all three capitalized upon the power of the digital age, utilising the internet to harness the powers of individual nodes and it’s respective abilities to reach out and promote the men’s ideals. Wikileaks would never exist without a computer and internet connections, as one does not need to imagine too hard to know that Assange would have a very tough time gaining attention had he published this all in a book.
Another assertion to the cyber-libertarianism of these men are the fact that they don’t see restrictions upon the internet and their ability to share information; they disregard it. Snowden for example sent secrets to The Guardian newspaper who effectively published them online, which allowed the information to contain further link-based sources and for the stories to be shared repeatedly via email, social media and blog posts. I feel however that Snowden, and even Assange, lose credibility for they chose to flee to places highly hypercritical of their beliefs and actions. Snowden fled to Russia and received amnesty, with much speculation regarding what he had to do, or share, with the Russians to gain this, as Russia is heavily authoritarian, far more so than the United States and United Kingdom. Assange too gained amnesty from The Republic of Ecuador embassy in London; Ecuador however is heavily strict and enforces violent and sometimes deadly actions on their own whistleblowers or government-opposers.
This begs the question; are these men, particularly Assange and Snowden doing the right thing, or have they served their initial ideals and have gone from freedom-fighters to hypocritical-hiders?
Let me know what you think,
Stay Classy UOW,