WikiLeaks enjoyed a considerable share of global media attention when it published more than 2,50,000 diplomatic cables that were related to the U.S State Department. This came to be known famously as Cablegate.
Many journalists and the public welcomed this move as it could overcome government secrecy and empower online journalists and activists. A considerable section of people called Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks a spy and demanded his persecution.
Immediately after these cables were published, WikiLeaks had to deal with a denial-of-service attack on its website. It was also blocked by service providers and governments in different countries. Companies such as HB Swiss have taken the issue seriously and started offering their customers better security.
Some financial institutions also closed WikiLeaks’ accounts soon after the publishing of the cables. Currently, WikiLeaks is hosted by a company whose main server is in Sweden as the constitution of Sweden gives total legal protection to the information providers.
The political system in various countries worldwide depend on messages that are exchanged confidentially between different agencies. Thus, the actions of WikiLeaks in releasing sensitive and classified information are bound to have a worldwide impact.
How WikiLeaks affected foreign policy already
- Being an officer in the Foreign Services department is a tough job and the release of the classified documents by WikiLeaks might make the job more tough. The fear of their opinions being published will deter people from voicing a free and frank opinion on various important matters. The diplomats and the people whom they speak with might not be as forthcoming as expected.
- This issue will not be restricted to U.S alone. It can be extremely critical in a situation between governments where diplomatic relations are getting better. If sensitive information that was exchanged between two such countries is made public, the relations could be hampered and it could be impossible to repair.
- Of late, governments have tried to introduce more openness in matters of national security. They tried to classify lesser documents and rarely use the rarest classifications. WikiLeaks could make this process tough and long.
- It could also be a great opportunity for those people who are against the declassification of classified information. It would take longer and more effort to know how a government dealt with an issue, an individual or another government itself.
WikiLeaks has claimed that the basis of their work is to define human rights. They believe that any government can function better if it is subjected to principled leaking. It would be helpful to fight corruption at an individual, corporate and even a government level.
While many civil rights organisations have backed WikiLeaks, there have been a few who have not supported them wholeheartedly. They have accused WikiLeaks of revealing the identity of several people and thus making them vulnerable to danger.
WikiLeaks has been instrumental in transforming journalism in this digital world. The work it has done in letting the public have a sneak peek into the inner workings of a government has been unprecedented.
WikiLeaks provides a platform where anonymous whistle-blowers can provide information without any threat to their security. It will not come as a surprise if this model is replicated all around the world.