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WikiLeaks: Encouraging Empowerment or Disruption?

One of the most contentious issues that surrounds the World Wide Web is the surfeit of information that can be published and accessed by anyone. The intended purpose of the Internets swathe of resources is to empower and educate individuals within society, and present them with the factual data, opinion and objective information to aid them in an individual quest for wisdom. This is with a view to liberating society and giving each individual member the tools to further their own education on desired subjects.
To this end, Wikileaks is an international non profit organization that was founded in 2006, and strives to deliver anonymous submissions of private and covert news to a wide and uncensored audience. As they protect the source of the information they are able to seek and publish highly controversial and topical information, which is served in the greater interest of keeping the public updated with relevant data. In keeping with the nature of their operation, they have been involved at the centre of several well documented international incidents.

Freedom of Speech and its ConsequencesIf anything, Wikileaks is the evocation of the freedom of speech and democratic values. In its purest form, it provides a platform through which it is able to deliver entirely relevant information that would otherwise be suppressed and censored by government bodies. In effect, it takes control away from governments who wish to control what information is fed to society, and ensures that people are empowered to be as informed as they wish to be. Of course, this concept is one that has produced a vast differential in terms of its reception and response.

For its supporters, it is a victory for liberal society, and one that epitomises the true nature of free speech. It does not conform to a diluted acceptance of democracy where people are allowed to only access information deemed suitable by particular government regimes, but instead delivers the principles of western culture in their ideal form. The main argument that corroborates the services of Wikileaks is that is informs society on issues that have a great relevance and impact of contemporary life, which otherwise would remain unknown by the vast majority of individuals.

However, various US government officials have criticized Wikileaks as being disruptive and potentially divisive to national security. Their concerns have been raised by several instances since the sites conception, which have been perceived to be detrimental to international operations and the safety of various US officials. The basic premise of all of these issues concerns the inherent lack of editorial discretion and guidance regarding the sites publication policy, which in effect allows thousands of documents to be published without the requisite levels of analysis and interpretation.

An Exercise in Liberal Thinking?
 Taking the two considered and diametrically opposed viewpoints into account, alongside the various publications that have earned Wikileaks notoriety, there is a strong argument to suggest that the US government’s main concern with the site is that it highlights specific errors in procedure or corporeal conduct. This changes the landscape of their stated objections o the site and its purpose, and appears as more of an act in self preservation than in protecting the interests of citizens and society at large.

To use relevant examples, in July of 2010 Wikileaks took the initiative to publish over 77,000 thousand documents chronicling the war in Afghanistan, and produced a series of posts that was referred to as the Afghan War Diary. They followed this up in October of the same year with a further 300,000 documents that were submitted and printed as the Iraq War Logs,with the support and endorsement several commercial media entities. These true and often harrowing documents were items that would have been made public were it not for the existence of Wikileaks, and their distribution was considered a major success in terms of liberating the freedom of information and speech amongst society.

There are two questions that could be raised from these publications. Supporters of the website could enquire exactly what threat these documents pose to US citizens and society, and insist that they in fact serve to highlight a corrupt series of conflicts that were based in half truths and suppositions. In contrast, government officials would be entitled to ask how the publication of these documents benefits the wider interests of society, and would argue that the uncensored distribution of these posts only aspires to benefit a hidden political agenda and create dissension amongst the voting ranks of the US.

The Responsibilities of Free Speech
 Ultimately however, the issue of publication and the purpose it serves is irrelevant, as the concepts of free expression and independent thinking demand that individuals compose their own opinions based on a wide and varied supply of information. In effect that it what Wikileaks supplies, regardless of the reasons or intent behind the sites original inception. It strives to present otherwise censored and topical information that may well be considered crucial in allowing voters and citizens to from accurate opinions of government policies.

This ideal is something that the US government cannot deny, as its ethos is at the very heart of democratic purpose. With the freedom of speech and liberal rule, citizens are allowed to form and express their thoughts independently, empowering them to live as full and as educated a life as possible. With this come a great deal of trust and responsibility handed from the government to its subjects, who are expected to act and subsist with due respect to the democratic rights they are afforded. Wikileaks simply gives citizens a chance to maximize their rights to freedom, and objecting to its purpose may well be seen as an affront to democratic living.

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Navaid I. Syed is the owner and CEO of / ExcitingAds! Inc. He is a medical doctor and was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan, on July 31, 1964. He graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan, in 1990. He is Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA, USA, certified.

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