I should start off by saying that I am a fan of whistleblowers. Hidden corruption, be it in major corporations or governments, deserves to be seen by the public, so that changes can be forced through. So it should go without saying that I consider many whistleblowers, including Chelsea Manning, Andrew Maguire, Blake Percival, Vijay Pandhare, Antoine Deltour, Edward Snowden, Ben Strickland, and many others to be heroes.
I have also always believed, and maintained, that whistleblowing should be a protected act worldwide. When exposing corruption, whistleblowers should be given immunity from prosecution and protection from retaliation. So, in the past, I’ve admired sites like Wikileaks for trying to do just that. Protection provided by such sites is, of course, extremely limited, which is why whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden often end up in prison or in exile.
Wikileaks has often proved to be a fascinating site. Filled with a treasure trove of interesting, and sometimes important, information, it’s a site that has remained controversial throughout its existence. Not only can you find the corruption that Chelsea Manning exposed, but you can also find quite a bit that the Church of Scientology would rather the average person didn’t know about their beliefs and their operations.
But Wikileaks apparently no longer cares what it leaks, so long as it does leak…
The whistleblowing site WikiLeaks has published the sensitive personal data of hundreds of ordinary people, including sick children, rape victims and people with mental health problems, an investigation has revealed.
In the past year alone, the “radical transparency” organization has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens. Hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web, according to the Associated Press.
In two cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims.
In a third case, which the organization disputes, WikiLeaks published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay – an extraordinary move given that homosexuality can lead to social ostracism, a prison sentence or even death.
Other leaks on the site include a “special database” of basically every Turkish woman who votes as part of the AKP leak (links were removed after they were called out), viruses and spam, and sensitive information of private citizens… none of it having anything to do with exposing government secrets and corruption.
I really can’t understand what the goal is, here, exactly. I understand exposing corruption. I support that. But what does exposing the names of rape victims have to do with corruption? What do the medical records of private citizens have to do with corruption? What corruption is exposed by naming a gay man who lives in Saudi Arabia, where him being gay means he’s marked for death? What is corrupt about the personal credit card numbers and telephone numbers of donors?
Yes, I realize cases could be made that this information “slipped through” while exposing true corruption. But then the question must be asked… who the hell is editing Wikileaks? Why are they allowing such personal, sensitive information to get through to the site when Assange himself said that they are legitimate secrets that deserve to be protected (like a Doctor’s records on a patient)? Do they even have editors, or do they just post anything given to them without vetting it?
Yes, admittedly, I’d like to know who’s donating to Democrats and Republicans through Super-PACs and other shady groups. But I’m not interested in their credit card numbers and private bank accounts, however, and neither should anyone else be.
Yes, admittedly, I would love Saudi Arabia’s bigoted governance and Turkey’s government’s horrid oppression of it’s people to end. But not at the expense of Saudi citizens whose sexuality is punishable by death and Turkish women who face persecution and death for exercising their voices.
Yes, admittedly, I want the misogyny of police departments failing rape victims the world over exposed and changed. But not at the expense of rape victims who, for many various and legitimate reasons, might want to remain anonymous.
Yes, admittedly, I want the corruption of Big Pharma exposed in all its ugly, disgusting glory. But not at the expense of patients whose medical records they understood to be private.
I used to visit Wikileaks a lot. I had everything Chelsea Manning gave to them saved to my old computer, and intended to download it all again. I had everything they had exposed about the Church of Scientology on my old computer, and intended to get it again.
Now I don’t want to give them clicks, or legitimize them in any way, until they hire a competent vetting and editing staff, remove and/or redact the offending information, and vow to never let stuff like this happen again. It’s unacceptable. It’s not exposing corruption at all… it’s violating privacy.