Umberto Eco on The Meaning of Wikileaks

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Novelist Umberto Eco has a profound piece on the meaning of Wikileaks' release of State Department cables. Particularly interesting is his suggestion that state surveillance -- when state secrets are easy to spread -- perversely becomes a kind of citizen-on-citizen surveillance.

Formerly, back in the days of Orwell, every power could be conceived of as a Big Brother watching over its subjects' every move. The Orwellian prophecy came completely true once the powers that be could monitor every phone call made by the citizen, every hotel he stayed in, every toll road he took and so on and so forth. The citizen became the total victim of the watchful eye of the state. But when it transpires, as it has now, that even the crypts of state secrets are not beyond the hacker's grasp, the surveillance ceases to work only one-way and becomes circular. The state has its eye on every citizen, but every citizen, or at least every hacker - the citizens' self-appointed avenger - can pry into the state's every secret.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/12/umberto-eco-on-the-meaning-of-wikileaks/67526/