So powerful are the interests controlling much of the media today, that it takes the pervasive quality of the Internet (www, P2P and all) to show up our emperors in their new clothes. The New York Times reports today that Wikileaks, one of those websites dedicated to the free flow of information that governments and powerful interests want to hide, has won a battle to remain on the web.
It is interesting to visit the India page on Wikileaks, which by definition is “expose central” — documents and credible proof of wrongdoing by governments and their corporate friends all laid out, naked. We have seen a lot of such freedom in the domain of video and podcasts. Now, someone is providing the space to host documented evidence of sleaze in high places.
Not all those claiming to be blowing the whistle on the India page are untainted, though. Some have had an axe to grind in the past. At the other end, two are martyrs: Shanmugham Manjunath and Satyendra Dubey. Then there is Anna Hazare. In a nation of a billion plus people, for various reasons, there are only a handful of identified pro-leak individuals. Perhaps that list will expand, although it is a challenge to demonstrate courage without martyrdom in what is still a lawless country.
Predictably, it is the tax havens and the secret bank accounts that have become contentious right at the start, and some banks which have thrived on the looting of taxpayers by politicians and other interests in third world countries have started protesting at Wikileaks. A judge in the US injuncted against the continued operation of the website, but has wisely retraced his steps and admitted that his order may be violative of the First Amendment on free speech. In any case, Wikileaks is also registered in another international domain, over which US jurisdiction may not be available.
For those who want to leak something, at least there is a place to go to. They don’t have to bother newspapers and television channels sitting at the top of the pedestal, but doing little!
Wikileaks can also be a logical extension of our Right to Information Act, 2005. Post all the documents there, and people will know where to find them.
All that, if the RTI Act 2005 survives the next election and if websites like Wikileaks are not mowed down. Remember that when you vote in coming elections.
The “Technology” section of the New York Times website has a interesting discussion on the Wikileaks issue here.