Hitting the WikiLeaks nail on the head

I don't usually do politics and current events on Talk Wordy to Me, but the backlash against WikiLeaks in the past week has left me increasingly infuriated. In a column on the Guardian's website, John Naughton caputres most of my feelings about it. The most recent WikiLeaks are important, he writes, because they show in real time what government officials are saying about the wars, and how that is at odds with what is being said to citizens:

  • "One thing that might explain the official hysteria about the revelations is the way they expose how political elites in western democracies have been deceiving their electorates. The leaks make it abundantly clear not just that the US-Anglo-European adventure in Afghanistan is doomed but, more important, that the American, British and other Nato governments privately admit that too."

He also hits on two points that I have been talking about with friends in the past week.

First, that democratic countries that praise broader access to access to information in countries like China are now falling all over themselves to attack a website for doing exactly that:

  • "Consider, for instance, how the views of the US administration have changed in just a year. On 21 January, secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a landmark speech about internet freedom, in Washington DC, which many people welcomed and most interpreted as a rebuke to China for its alleged cyberattack on Google. "Information has never been so free," declared Clinton. "Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable." She went on to relate how, during his visit to China in November 2009, Barack Obama had "defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity." Given what we now know, that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece."

Second, it exposes the bad side of cloud computing, in the wake of Amazon, Paypal, and others severing ties with WikiLeaks:

  • "The attack of WikiLeaks also ought to be a wake-up call for anyone who has rosy fantasies about whose side cloud computing providers are on. These are firms like Google, Flickr, Facebook, Myspace and Amazon which host your blog or store your data on their servers somewhere on the internet, or which enable you to rent "virtual" computers – again located somewhere on the net. The terms and conditions under which they provide both "free" and paid-for services will always give them grounds for dropping your content if they deem it in their interests to do so. The moral is that you should not put your faith in cloud computing – one day it will rain on your parade."