Much, but refreshingly not all, of the arguments about WikiLeaks have focussed on whether or not WikiLeaks was right to leak those diplomatic cables. Do governments have the right to private conversations? Individuals do, so why not governments? And if governments do, then what about corporations? Well, I believe all those arguments are missing the point. Because, information wants to be free.
“Information wants to be free” is not a position. Information wants to be free in the same way that nature abhors a vacuum. It is simply a statement of the default state of affairs: information that can be reproduced perfectly and cheaply will be reproduced.
WikiLeaks is simply the natural result of a network and technology that has evolved to be really good at that reproduction. To me this means that questions of who owns the information, is government information different from corporate information, and should this affect individuals’ attitudes towards WikiLeaks are all slightly beside the point.
To repeat a tired cliché, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle: the technology to allow massive and anonymous leaks is now here for everyone. These kinds of leaks will only become more common. Irrespective of what happens to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
Unless something very draconian and totalitarian is done.
Which is why I don’t bother thinking about whether or not I personally agree with WikiLeaks (though I do), instead I worry about what the end result of attempts to shut it down will look like. That future police state is what we need to fight.