Categorized | Startups, US

Wikileaks – Combating Corruption Web 2.0 Way

Wikileaks gets knocked down, but gets up again, and to its same old domain. The site got itself in hot water after documents showing a Swiss bank indulging in not-so-legal-activities were published on the website. The bank filed an injunction against Wikileaks in a Californian court which was sustained by the judge. Wikileaks alleges that the documents in question show the bank supporting “ultrarich’s offshore tax avoidance, tax evasion, asset hiding, and money laundering.”

According to the info available on the Wiki site,

In his order, Judge White backpedaled on his earlier rulings, now having realized that those rulings trampled the First Amendment. WikiLeaks and its writers were ably represented by attorneys James Chadwick, Roger Myers, Guylyn Cummins and Joshua Koltun. The First Amendment was further represented by all of those entities that filed amicus briefs, including the the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press and eleven other media organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Citizen, the California First Amendment Coalition and the Project on Government Oversight. We give thanks to these extraordinary efforts.

The judge spent three hours listening to the lawyers representing the bank before over turning his earlier order which mandated the website to shutter its business. (In fact the initial shutdown did not have the intended impact as the site maintains several mirror images and within hours of the earlier judgment, various other sites came up showing the same documents).

WikiLeaks has announced that it will not be cowed by those who would silence the truth. Wikileaks will continue to be a forum for the citizens of the world to disclose issues of social, moral and ethical concern. WikiLeaks encourages everyone who believes in shining that disinfecting sunlight on wrongdoing to Support its mission.

Wikileaks is an interesting concept on the whole. One of the greatest Justices to ever sit on US Supreme court, Louis Brandeis once wrote that, Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.

I think Wikileaks is THE best way to harness the strength of Web 2.0 with the desire to do public good. Because of its phenomenal reach Wikileak can make a huge impact. In the developing part of the world where corruption is endemic, the platform can be used to out shady practices not only in the corporate world, but government and politics as well.

Anybody with a fair conscience and in the know how of dubious activities can save the trouble of going to the police directly. Instead they can post the details on the site with relevant documents. Of course IP address can still be subpoenaed but I am sure sites like these would go at great lengths in protecting the identity of the whistle-blowers.

Two immediate instances come to mind from India where the whistle-blowers had to pay dearly with their lives. Sateyndra Dubey, an engineer from the elite IIT and another fellow from IIM (whose name I can’t recall right away) working in the oil industry, came across corruption at their work place. Both wanted to expose it and bring greater transparency. But unfortunately, as a consequence, were viciously attacked and ended up losing their lives.

Imagine the same today. All they would have had to do was post the details, proof, and relevant documents on Wikileaks, from where the concerned media and officials would have pick it up and followed it to its logical end. Would have helped them in being discreet and yet getting the job done.

Web 2.0 could have definitely helped save their lives.

    7 Responses to “Wikileaks – Combating Corruption Web 2.0 Way”

    1. Jennifer Lancey says:

      I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

      Jennifer Lancey

    2. DS says:

      I am reminded of TEHELKA in india,where corruption was exposed at highest levels.But
      TEHELKA had to face what all____.

    3. Tarun says:

      Exctly! Thats another good example. Imagine if Tehelka would have simply uploaded clips and documents on a site like this.

      But then if govt orders a shutdown or blockage of the site through the ISPs, the courts may not display courage under fire as exhibited by the American courts in general and Californian court specifically.

      However, Tehelka could have stayed in the background and made available all the supporting documents through the site and passed on to contemporary media like newspapers and TVs.

    4. Genuinely, that is certainly amazing and inspiring. Keep it up and thanks for all you do to the rest of us.

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