Sunday, 15 August 2010

The Land Of The Free (if the Army allows)

Remember the First Amendment (the Free Speech one)? Then there's the integrity of foreign states, and their right to do what they choose, whether it suits the US or not. So news sites in foreign countries can publish stuff about America without hindrance, right?

Not according to this guy, Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen; he seems to have forgotten that the US is not the whole world. Thiessen says that Obama should use the US's power, even military power, to stop WikiLeaks publishing the next batch of Afghanistan papers.
“The United States has the cyber capabilities to prevent WikiLeaks from disseminating those materials ... Will President Obama order the military to deploy those capabilities? … If Assange remains free and the documents he possesses are released, Obama will have no one to blame but himself.”
IF a citizen of a foreign state remains free? OF COURSE he should remain free; the US has for centuries defended the rights of people to fight oppression and stand up for the right to share information. The US has no right to lock up, or otherwise silence, citizens of other countries, any more than it has the right to muzzle its own citizens. (No, I'm not a Tea Bagger.)

However Cory Doctorow was clearly bothered by a trend towards repression and control (in the name of "Freedom" of course) when he wrote Little Brother, and the situation hasn't got any better in the last two years.

On a practical level, how on earth can you stop WikiLeaks? It doesn't have a single server, it's a distributed network so it can resist most kinds of attacks. And it's distributed an "insurance file", containing all the raw Afghan data, via a network of bit torrent sites around the world. The file is encrypted, but if WikiLeaks is somehow shut down, no doubt the encryption key will become equally widely distributed and the raw information (not WikiLeaks' current anonymised version) will be even more widely seen.

It's a stalemate, I'd say.

No comments: