The Leak And The Coming Flood


Andy Greenberg's Forbes cover story on Wikileaks is making the rounds:

Admire Assange or revile him, he is the prophet of a coming age of involuntary transparency. Having exposed military misconduct on a grand scale, he is now gunning for corporate America. Does Assange have unpublished, damaging documents on pharmaceutical companies? Yes, he says. Finance? Yes, many more than the single bank scandal we’ve been discussing. Energy? Plenty, on everything from BP to an Albanian oil firm that he says attempted to sabotage its competitors’ wells. Like informational IEDs, these damaging revelations can be detonated at will.

My sense is that we have crossed a Rubicon, and there is close to nothing we can do about it. It is inherent in the kind of communication technology we now all use. Anything can easily be leaked; there is no real limit on the amount of private or secret data that can be widely disseminated within minutes; it only takes one or two individuals to break faith and spill every bean. We live increasingly in a world with no curtains or even veils. This is true personally - ask Brett Favre or Christine O'Donnell - and collectively - ask Don Rumsfeld after Abu Ghraib. The era of secrecy is over. What we need to do is adjust, not simply regret or attack.

There's an additional interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:

As we’ve gotten more successful, there’s a gap between the speed of our publishing pipeline and the speed of our receiving submissions pipeline. Our pipeline of leaks has been increasing exponentially as our profile rises, and our ability to publish is increasing linearly.

This puts into relief the dilemma that the US government faces when combating Wikileaks. Trying to crack down on the organization would only give it more publicity, which would allow it to attract more leaks. Going after Assange directly – an idea various congressmen are toying with – would backfire spectacularly. Even if Wikileaks were brought down, its death would launch a thousand imitators.

Remember what happened when Napster was shuttered?

(Photo of Assange by Leon Neal/Getty.)