“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.
5 thoughts on “Will Wikileaks be the death of big business?”
This is so silly it’s hard to know where to begin, so I’ll mention just two things and let your imagination fill in the blanks.
Every advance in communications since the dawn of time increased the exposure of everything, both the good AND the bad. From cave drawings to the Gutenberg press to the telegraph to the telephone to the most recent internet which includes You Tube where the airline pilot who exposed TSA malfeasance chose to document his accusations.
Business owners and managers have always realized that size is proportional to liability risks. The more employees, the more likely that one of them will take unauthorized action and yet the backlog in civil court dockets doesn’t seem to have stifled the incentive to grow businesses.
As I said, I think Scheiber is a tad overwrought about the “power” of Wikileaks, but his article explains his rationale far better than my very brief summary.
I read his article. Your summary did it justice in my opinion.
Though Wikileaks and those that come after it will no doubt do their share of damage, I’m still happy that whistleblowers will have more power to expose government and corporate corruption that hurts us all. Of course, those who profit from corruption have become very adept at generating a lot of noise for their dirt to get lost in, so it remains to be seen how much of a difference this new power will actually make.
At this point we can only hope they exercise their power responsibly.