Sample Political Science Essay on Online Privacy in Return for Security

Government Surveillance and Supervision over the People’s Online Privacy in Return for Security

Introduction

When the idea of keeping information online to expose some of the hidden secrets by powerful individuals and companies crossed the minds of Julian Assange, it was meant to provide freedom that has always been articulated in the constitution. This type of freedom is being accelerated by internet to provide users with freedom to share their views ,and speak openly and transparently on issues that affect majority but are kept as secret to protect others. Wiki leaks are examples where technology is being embraced to drive social changes needed for democracy (Benedetta et al, (2013). This can be termed as a blessing in disguise because of the way it has been embraced .I agree that internet has globalised many sectors where people are linked internationally with a lot of freedom spaces being opened up compared to previous decades.

The online scenario is something people had dreamt of earlier where they envisioned freedom to do business internationally, and share ideas across the globe. Not many people would like to see such freedom because this will hurt their ill intentions. That is why many of those previously mentioned on wiki leaks have quick intentions to control it. Individuals who have been mentioned on Wiki leaks are mostly politicians and corporate top managements. They have powers to influence and legislate laws that they can take advantage. With these positions, they have the capability to limit freedom for their own selfish gains. Therefore using internet is the only way social change can be realized (Benedetta et al, 2013). The idea of Wiki leaks has come at the right time because it uses the modern technology to make people have the information about the selfish ways of the elite that inspires people to fight against these oppressors. The internet has increased the number of activists because of its platform. The Internet has enormous information and provides available and accessible information that has been traditionally restricted to specific locations like libraries (Benedetta, et al, 2013). People work collectively in such environments with unbelievable outcomes. This is what most governments fear .Unfortunately, the Internet services and some of its features are beyond borders, making it not easy to be controlled like in the cases of the traditional media. The casing point is many of Arab countries have strict laws regarding information and communication but with technological changes, information still leaks out because of the need for change from the oppressed people. People believe that this is their only hope to access transparent information that will pressure their governments to be more democratic (Benedetta et al., 2013).

The main concern therefore is to understand the idea behind wiki leaks and it actions, how it affects policy making, and drive social changes being witnessed .The other aspects of looking at wiki leaks would be its effect in relation to increased transparency and what others can learn from it. Lastly, the paper will analyze the consequences such leaks have on the government and its people in trying to find democracy.

The Existence of Wiki Leaks

Most whistleblowers were finding it hard to back up their proof of unethical practices encountered in different work places as much as laws are in place to protect them. Hence, the birth of wiki leaks .compared to other source of information like media focusing on procedures, wiki leaks focused on providing information through leaks because most people felt that the media was a letdown (Ball, 2011). Their main concern was to make information the free by setting the pace for whistle blowing to become the better option for fighting self interest of most governments. Normally, in most regimes, certain information could not be available to the public, as it is considered an offense. Therefore wiki leaks provides a more safe passage for sharing such vital information that were mostly mistakes or government taking advantage of lack of public knowledge in making certain undemocratic decisions. Within the years of its existence, the platform has shared information about government dealings and secrets considered harmful by many but useful to the public. The most significant cases have been the Icelandic financial crisis dealings, to dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast. Others have been the Sarah Pulin secret emails on the list of his party members. The latest wiki leaks came from Edward Snowden who blew the whistle on national security Agency illegal tapping of phones and internet communication. Edward Snowden worked as a contractor for NSA. He leaked out information to a journalist revealing how the US government was gathering individual communication across the world. The US government was in partnership with German; Israel and UK agencies claimed that the surveillance was meant to counter terrorism. As a result, the US government and other countries involved were pressurized to take measures to avert any future gaps as reported. Numerous investigations were conducted related to violation of individual rights to freedom of information .The president acknowledged the importance of transparency in relation to Swonden s’ case. He requested the intelligence services to provide the public with unlimited information to show his commitment to democracy. It is ironic to note that the presidents’ directives were conflicting. He ordered information to be provided to the public to support democracy at the same time ordered the vice president to discuss with other international leaders to deny Edward Snowden asylum. This is a clear case of individual freedom being threatened by government under the pretext of preventing terrorism.

Within its 4 years of existence, a lot of damaging information has come into the public limelight. Most people term the founder as a traitor while others celebrates him as the peoples’ hero. This was triggered more when they shared a video of the US air striking killing Iraq civilian in the 2007 (Rogers, 2010).

When reading the leaks, one would be left wondering if the information is helpful or it is meant to damage the reputation of many governments. It exposes the gaps within the security systems of these governments. With the reaction from these governments, a person could not tell exactly, which country is more democratic when comparing. For example in the case of wiki leaks when Bradley Manning was arrested in connection to wiki leaks as much other media outlets were involved like the New York Times, no action was taken against them (McGreal, 2010).

Gaps in the Mainstream Media

In Wiki leaks case, most people argued that the New York Times needed not to have produced such information .This is typical of media where they are required to observe ethics, care, and professionalism in reporting. When the video collateral murder was released, wiki leaks claimed that some parts were edited. Therefore, they released another version, which caused a fall out between the two as each of them wanted to defend its position. Therefore we can only see the difference between institution reporting and individualized network reporting system like wiki leak. The New York Times editor insists that wiki leaks information gathering is not close to be called journalism. Therefore, it is not surprising to find a big difference between the mainstream media and wiki leak platforms because both have different agendas (Ball, 2011). As much as Wiki leaks sources are considered unprofessional, most of the sources at time feed information to the mainstream media. For example, in the case of the Iran protest reforms and the London underground train bombings, the first media images came from individuals and the public as the only reliable footages for news updates. The recent cases of the Arab spring revolution in Tunisia and Egypt can also support this point. Footages from personal cameras were channeled to the mainstream media for news updates considering the volatile situation. The reporter could not access first hand information compared to the people on the ground (Ball, 2011).

In general, the use of such outlets can give quality and in-depth information. It is not easy to deploy people all over the world to gather information that makes news headlines. However, through a system like Wiki leaks, individuals can always come forward with information if assured protection .On the other hand, Wiki leaks cannot bring public attention as an individual entity, it needs media. Media is believed to capture public attention easily and fast. That is why however difficult, Wiki leaks needed the assistance from media houses to bring public attention of the wrong doings by governments (Benedetta et al, 2013).

What needs to be Done

Bob Woodward’s study of an investigation that lead to Nixon impeachment is closely linked to “follow the money” one of the latest leaks presented by Wiki leaks on president Obama’s foreign policy. Wiki leaks claimed that the US government employed the same strategy, as they did in dealing with Al Qaeda  dubbed “ take the money go for the infrastructure” .These were information shared by Wiki leaks on how the US attorney had been  secretly investigating  Wiki leaks,  which is not justified. Wiki leaks released confidential information on communication in the US department, and partnered with newspapers to release documents. The documents contained the investigation process and actions that were supposed to be taken according to emails, which were classified as confidential. Emails were obtained from a private intelligence corporation called Stratford indicating that the United States government was secretly going to Julian Assange, the founder of Wiki leaks .This had been going on for 12 months, as reported by Wiki leaks (Benedetta et al, 2013). Using selected media houses, Wiki leaks released full detailed reports. Some media houses argued that some of them were not of interest to them, therefore not reflecting the exact information provided by Wiki leaks. Some of the media houses requested the US government officials to review documents before being published (Benedetta, B. et al, 2013).

In whatever manner that one can describe Wiki leaks from the time it was established up to now, crucial information has come to the public domain about various government dealing but the irony is that they have not faced any charges. Instead, unorthodox ways have been employed in dealing with them. These include making them to be inaccessible online, freezing their accounts while other extreme measures that have been proposed by politicians and other media personalities includes assassination (Benedetta, B. et al, 2013).

Wiki leaks is trying to fit a description of  how powers struggles affect people, the controversy in internet usage, and the battle between transparency and secrecy . Reflecting back when the world wide web was introduced, many analyst saw it as a new way of challenging the old traditional center of power control .This was viewed as a way to bring freedom to citizen who would share information freely .There would be a lot of collaborative efforts experienced, hence it was called the era of abundance compared to the old version era referred as the scarcity era .This would be an era where millions of decision makers holding online accounts would overpower the few people centered on power (Benedetta,  et al, 2013).   This prediction has come to pass because social network have utilized the online webs to drive change by seeking public support and coordinating actions, which has brought changes in many areas.

Conclusion

As new finding suggested, more efforts should be put to combine the new technological efforts with the old ways of information sharing to the public. However, the loose network like Wiki leaks operate on individual basis as compared to the traditional ways of information sharing like the media that has standard guidelines to follow, and  is difficult to understand. However, the fact is that such collaborative efforts between the two have proved to be beneficial to the public, as it exposes the government intention or actions that are questionable by the public (Benedetta, et al 2013). As much as the emerging systems like Wiki leaks have some gaps, it is emerging that they have become the new public watchdogs. Wiki leaks as it might be considered weak continues to bring to attention the secrets that are hidden from the public, meant for public to take action to continue in order to enjoy the democratic space needed. Adjusting to such kind of scenario is not widely accepted, but it has been predicted that in future there will be a smooth transition from the traditional information sharing like media to more of online-mediated models. The current criticism and pull down seen with Wiki leaks are manifestation of fear about the changes it might cause. With the change in technology, such initiative cannot be ignored because of the power it has over people. This explains why the old traditional information sharing models are quickly working to adapt to this new wave of online social network to maximize on their benefits.

 

References

Ball, J. (2011). “Wiki leaks prepare to release unpredicted US cables.” The Guardian.

 Benedetta, B., Arne, H., & Patrick, M. (2013) Beyond Wiki Leaks: Implications for the Future of Communications, Journalism. New York: St Martin’s press.

Ellen, M. J. (2010). “Wiki leaks founder could be charged with Espionage.” The Washington Post.

McGreal, C. (2010). “Wiki leaks reveals video showing US aircrew shooting down Iraqi civilians.” The Guardian.

Rogers, S. (2010). “Wiki leaks Iraq what’s wrong with the data.” The Guardian.