Wikileaks shows the importance of a free internet
There's one thing that Cablegate has shown clearly and abundantly. Something which so far was mostly theoretical and hence easily dismissed by many people as "paranoia": Governments will use whatever leverage they have on the internet to advance their agenda. They're working on various fronts to shut down Wikileaks: Amazon, PayPal, PostFinanz, EveryDNS, Mastercard, VISA -- And that's just the start, there's more to come, just wait for it. The US government is furious, they simply will not allow some internet punk to interfere with their own, secret plans. And pretty much anything the government does is considered "secret" these days. The legal justification for all this? None ofcourse, since the US constitution explicitly protects Wikileaks.
Just imagine for a second an Internet where governments have a censoring infrastructure of blocking sites automatically nation- or worldwide with a single click of a button -- which is exactly what they're pushing for in many countries under the pretense of fighting child pornography -- or terrorists, or Nazis, whatever flys best with the general populace.
Think what it would be like if the government had a secret mandatory backdoor to any computer that they want -- which is exactly what they're doing here in Germany with the online search (Onlinedurchsuchung). Again: Evil terrorists abound, they absolutely need that tool, be afraid, be very afraid.
And what about the Data Retention Act (Vorratsdatenspeicherung)? An initiative that they're now pushing for all of Europe, where every ISP is required to log everywhere you've been on the internet (and with your mobile phone) and everyone you've called by phone or written email to -- for six months. Ofcourse, like with the online search the long term plan is to be able to access that information without any search warrant whatsoever and ofcourse without you knowing about it. Even though right now it requires "significant reasons" (aka Terrorist), they're already trying to soften it and to extend it to other areas like illegal downloads, child pornography or Nazis. Have a guess what they justify this with: The War on Terror. Who'd have thought?
I and many people I know have donated money to Wikileaks. Through the SWIFT agreement (which the US lobbied extremely hard for in Europe, ironically revealed by Wikileaks Cablegate-Memos among many other things), the US is now able to see this, and I'm quite sure I get at least knocked up a few notches on the scale of suspicion merely because of this. After all it's so easy and cheap with these computer thingys. Just like with all the other measures, you can automate almost anything so well and simply let the computer do the job: IF $recipient = wikileaks THEN Threatlevel + 2. The justification for the SWIFT agreement? The US needs to be able to monitor the flow of money "of terror networks". Which makes perfect sense, because Osama Bin Laden surely uses bank transfers over western banks and not, say, the Hawala-network that the muslim world uses, which has no SWIFT codes whatsoever and which completely avoids the western banking system.
Now, knowing all these highly effective tools they're working on to "fight terrorism" here's where the fun starts: Sarah Palin, Peter King, Jeffrey T Kuhner, Rick Santorum and many other politicians and journalists in the US are already pushing to have Wikileaks declared "Terrorists". "Assange is not a 'journalist,' any more than the 'editor' of al Qaeda's new English-language magazine Inspire is a 'journalist'...Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders?... Did we use all the cyber tools at our disposal to permanently dismantle WikiLeaks?" foams Sarah Palin, the wellknown expert on foreign politics (think: Russia and North Korea). As usual with rightwing crackpots, they do not provide any reasoning as to why exactly Wikileaks would deserve such a label -- I could offer a very valid explanation why they want to label them "Terrorists", but it would not involve any bearded men with explosive belts flying planes into skyscrapers.
Imagine a world where everyhing mentioned above is already in place: Governments would know who mailed Wikileaks (the informants), they would know which publications Wikileaks contacted (say, for a release in mainstream media), where Wikileaks members have been on the Internet -- and all of this would be just thanks to data retention. They could get simply everything if online search was possible. Now given Wikileaks somehow actually managed to leak anything of importance: With a simple click of a button, they could just switch off wikileaks or any mirror with their "child pornography" censorship infrastructure.
Wikileaks is the perfect example of why a free uncensored internet is of crucial importance. Ofcourse, everyone using the internet is bound to local law in whatever country he or she is in, but no government should be able to (automatically!) censor anything or control the flow of information on the internet. Just like they shouldn't be (and aren't) able to censor, log and monitor what you say on the phone and in a letter automatically without any search warrant. Free speech and freedom of press laws are in all democratic constitutions for a reason, and they for sure weren't put in there for people posting pictures of their cat online or people praising the governments' actions. They were put in there exactly for people like Julian Assange.