WikiLeaks refers to an international non-profit organization, which publishes news leaks as well as secret and confidential information from anonymous sources. It focuses on transparency and publishes the news leaks and other important information based on their political, diplomatic, ethical and historical significance. Julian Assange is generally recognized as its founder, director and editor-in-chief, although he has several associates. Since its establishment in 2006, WikiLeaks has claimed databases of millions of documents containing secret information of countries, individuals and corporations. For instance, it published leaked documents about secret negotiations on Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade and talks related to the proposed multilateral agreement on Trade in Services. WikiLeaks also published leaked information on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysis of drone strikes’ effectiveness (Michael, 2015). This paper discusses whether Mr. Assange and his organization should be free to release such documents. The paper also looks at whether there is a need for censorship in this case.
WikiLeaks has become a controversial issue among different people and organizations. Many people agree on the level of corruption exposed by WikiLeaks, which is historically unique since there is no other organization that has emerged to match WikiLeaks regarding its exposure of the misuse of power. If the government can use the confidentiality of the administrative documents to cover up its misconduct, especially corruption and human rights violations, there is a need to overcome the formal borders of such secrecy. This is justified as a way of protecting democratic society and the citizens against secret misuse of government power (Flew & Liu, 2011). Therefore, to some extent, Assange and his organization should be allowed to release such information to the public. However, WikiLeaks should be careful with sensitive documents, especially those that may compromise a country’s security. WikiLeaks should also be regulated to guard it against invading personal privacy and violating intellectual property rights.
In this case, there is a need for censorship because some secrecy is desirable and legitimate. Notably, it is of the country’s best interest and its citizens to keep the plans and policies of certain institutions, such as the army, under wraps. Scrutinizing every detail by organizations such as WikiLeaks may prove dangerous since the public may easily access classified information, which can then fall into the hands of the enemy (Zajácz, 2013). Additionally, WikiLeaks is also considered to have its own political agenda and, as such, censorship would be critical in ensuring that they give transparent and balanced information devoid of bias. Censorship will also prevent any form of public disrespect to certain individuals, community or organizations, and ensure political correctness.
In conclusion, the debate surrounding WikiLeaks is quite complex and controversial. On one hand, it seems unquestionable that WikiLeaks have been at the forefront in exposing the leaks about corruption and human rights violations, especially by different governments. On the other hand, sensitive information related to a country’s security may fall into the enemy’s hands, for instance, ISIS, who may easily carry out a terrorist attack using that information. Therefore, while WikiLeaks seeks to leak important information to the public, censorship of sensitive information may also be necessary.
Flew, T., & Liu, B. R. (2011). Globally networked public spheres? The Australian media reaction to WikiLeaks. Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, 5(1), 1-13.
Michael, G. J. (2015). Who’s Afraid of WikiLeaks? Missed Opportunities in Political Science Research. Review of Policy Research, 32(2), 175-199. doi:10.1111/ropr.12120
Zajácz, R. (2013). WikiLeaks and the problem of anonymity: A network control perspective. Media, Culture & Society, 35(4), 489-505. doi:10.1177/0163443713483793