“Why Wikileaks will be the death of big business and big government” is the thought-provoking title of an opinion piece by Noam Scheiber over at The New Republic.
Although at first blush this sounds like a baseless and somewhat hysterical conclusion about the power of Wikileaks, Scheiber presents a creditable case for his position. Simply put, he conjectures that the larger an organization is, the more potential leakers/whistleblowers it has. Therefore businesses and governments will downsize in order to reduce their risk.
It’s more complicated than that, of course. For example, presumably only illegal or unethical behavior prompts whistleblowing, but who decides what is “unethical”? The leaker, who may be either a conscientious citizen or a disgruntled employee? Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who will publish almost anything but make no effort to get both sides of the story? The organization that thinks of itself as ethical (don’t they all?) and above reproach?
Scheiber concludes, as have I, that regardless of what you think of Wikileaks, it is here to stay. Squash Wikileaks and similar organizations will spring up to replace it. Indeed, a competitor, Openleaks, is expected to launch very soon.
Like Scheiber, I believe nimble, technologically astute individuals — geeks, if you will — who have mastered the Internet will always be a few steps ahead of any government or corporate effort to thwart them. Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.