As if we didn't have enough problems, it seems we will have to come up with some sort of ethical principle about what ought to be leaked and what not.
Information wants to be free, but bank account passwords very much want to be secret.
Is a person a hero for revealing information that was not intended as private? Are we all being delusional when we assume anything we say or do is private? What should we do when the walls all really, literally have ears, something we could afford to do already?
Dellingpole thinks wikileaks is a good idea. That certainly counts against it.
The senators who most vociferously repeat the "yes but climategate" line seem unwilling to cut Wikileaks any slack.
This is about more than just sharing entertainment media. What are the expectations for privacy, and what should be the penalty for violating those expectations. It seems to me that little enough was revealed by the CRU emails as to make their release unjustifiable, but those celebrating Wikileaks apparently believe that nothing should be private, ever, and that every invasion of privacy or legalistic intrusion attempting invasion of privacy is something to be celebrated.
Having seen how easily the CRU emails can be misconstrued, I have little confidence in the people combing through the leaked diplomatic emails on our collective behalf. If science journalism is too important to be left to journalists, who is to say that international relations journalism is any better?
I think that what I think is that bulk releases of stolen data are criminal, and that even in selective releases a greater crime must be revealed. Even there, there is some room for interpretation.
Apparently the US has been doing the anti-insurgency campaign on behalf of the Yemeni government, and nobody wanted the population to know it. Somehow I doubt this was an actual secret, but it was a handy fig leaf for all concerned.
People who do not support Al Qaeda (presumably this means everybody reading here) ought to be unhappy about this.
We also ought to be unhappy to live in a world where hypocrisy is part of the fabric of life. Still I doubt whether people uncovering such hypocrisy are inevitably doing a service.
The solution as individuals is to avoid such situations. But that is easier in theory than in practice.
What to say and what not to say is a challenge for practically everybody with any effectiveness. What is lying or covering-up, and what is protecting dear old granny from shocking ideas she couldn't and needn't cope with? What is courageous muckraking, and what is just mindless stirring up of dirt?
The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.
- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)