Firstly, this is not about how righteous WikiLeaks is (or is not). This is also not about how right (or wrong) whistle blowing is. This post is about a more macro view of the concept of freedom of speech and/or expression.
WikiLeaks, a site that provides “an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists.” One particular sentence in its mission statement interests me.
It states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. We agree, and we seek to uphold this and the other Articles of the Declaration.
How ironic then, for WikiLeaks and/or their supporters to be going around trying to do the exact opposite. Targeting Visa, MasterCard, and now Paypal (in addition to many other websites) is in total contradiction to their above mission statement. ‘Innocent’ users are inconvenienced and lives are disrupted. This is more like terrorism now. Free speech? You can go around ‘stealing’ secrets, others should be allowed to state and declare freely that they do not support you. By attacking websites, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Another thing. WikiLeaks and its supporters can publish numerous articles in a bid to expose secret communication between high-ranking people. The irony is that how WikiLeaks is trying to secure its servers using multiple layers of encryption to keep prying eyes out and away from their articles. Free speech? You can get people to reveal secret information, other people should be able to get ‘secret’ information from you too.
Antonymous of free speech, maybe. This same situation could happen in Singapore (or is it happening already?). The opposition parties support their revamped version of freedom of speech, whilst the PAP also advocates their tried-and-tested version. I am not for or against either versions as they both have positive and negative effects. What is more important here is how the oppositions will handle their own concept of freedom of speech when they get more power in parliament. Will they continue to advocate this ‘new’ concept of freedom of speech. (A hypothetical situation: Dear opposition parties, what will you do if the very people who voted you into power start to go against you, to speak up vocally about your governance? Will you start to jail and prosecute people? WIll you also start to sue for defamation, be it libel or slander? If some international power start to criticise you, will you jail those authors or freedom fighters? Will you?)