I have doubts about Wikileaks. Once they are out I think the press has a right to publish though I hope they do screen them to ensure the safety of individuals and organisations but I keep hearing Julian Assange complaining about the press picking up stories about him which he claims are leaks! That’s a bit rich!
A lot of the material is gossip and just feeds into government’s policy assessments. Not big stuff – but some is big. My two concerns are that if it continues then all governments and many other organisations and individuals as well will simply make assessments top secret or only write it very cautiously. The other concern is the general mood in the democracies where we are beginning to assume that we are no better than the dictatorships – I’ve referred to this danger in other posts. Freedom is hard won and easily lost and although Wikileaks is not a serious threat to it there is a serious threat from the authoritarian groups and countries who do want to undermine the democracies – wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a Wikileaks in Russia, China, Iran etc.?
The other story related to this is the bugging of Vince Cable. Is it right for a newspaper to go to an MP’s surgery and bug them like this? I learnt years ago to be careful what I said to strangers about certain political issues but is this good? I don’t think it is. When I started seeing the political groups linked to the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland I was extra careful about my statements to people. Had I not been so careful and if I had been bugged by a newspaper would that have been beneficial to the peace process? I doubt it.
Finally there are some serious double standards here. The Daily Telegraph doesn’t want Murdoch to take full ownership of BSKYb so they didn’t use that part of the story (the BBC used it). So should we start bugging editors and journalists to see what they are hiding from us? We are on a slippery path.