Wednesday, 8 December 2010

WikiLeaks: A Hard Case. Expect Bad Law

Given the enthusiasm with which numerous governments have attempted to thwart WikiLeaks, and their lack of a ready legal basis for doing so, we should keep an eye out for some exceptionally bad legislation.

We cannot expect the politicians to do nothing about this. There is just too much irony involved.

I mean, how galling must it be to claim the Internet is 'lawless' and then find that global commercial service providers seem to have no trouble enforcing their own cross-border terms of service?

And how can one now lay claim to being "diplomatic" when everyone's seen how much care diplomats take when writing to each other?

Never mind that "WikiLeaks" is just a brand name, and the material it publishes has already been leaked by... government officials.

But wait! There's hope yet. I reckon there's a line of official thought that might run something like this:
"We can't possibly have a law that specifically prevents official leaks. How would opposition parties ever get elected? It would be the end of democracy!

Well what about a law approving leaks in certain circumstances, like when they promote democracy? And let's not just make it a national phenomenon. Let's do it by international treaty. We could set up a single, not-for-profit organisation, not controlled by any national government, that would have as its charter the publication of leaked government information that it judges to be in the public interest. All officials could then simply disclose their leaks to it, and impartial editors from around the world could approve disclosure.

We could call it, "WikiLeaks"!"

Image from ThoughtTheater.


Ian Brown said...

:) Problems: (1) Govts not usually too concerned about electoral prospects of the opposition. (2) I imagine the IPR lobby is jumping up and down in delight at how easily their Internet censorship arguments will go down in future with politicians.Plus their concrete plans on how to go about this (top targets: Art. 12 ECD and s.230 CDA)

Pragmatist said...

Cheers, Ian. I agree on both points, hence the title. It's time for opposition parties, right-minded citizens and anyone else who cares to be on red alert. ;-)

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