Thursday, December 16, 2010

WikiLeaks' Assange, Whistleblower or Dangerous Hacker?

Most of us are enjoying reading the behind the scenes revelations that WikiLeaks has revealed, but does that legitimize Assange as a moral whistleblower?  Is Julian Assange a real criminal or doing the world a favor?

My husband and I haven't embraced the modern ways of having all of our banking etc online, via our computer.  We don't have paypal.  Of course, all of the banks we use have all their information computerized, so we're not as safe as we'd like to be.

All this internet hacking is very frightening.  Considering that I have enough trouble remembering my various passwords, it seems so incomprehensible that there are people who manage to hack into the accounts of others to damage and steal from them.

IMHO, the minute that the WikiLeaks supporters started their revenge they showed their true stripes, their danger.  Whistleblowers risk their lives and security for a greater good.  These hackers have crossed the line.  It's one thing to publicize Obama, Nixon, Carter or Henry Kissenger's antisemitic comments, but it's something totally different to play with the private banking of ordinary, innocent people.

The same tool that can be used for the public good can also be used for bad.

And rather ironically, the various governments embarrassed by WikiLeaks can't find a law by which to prosecute Julian Assange, but they have found evidence of sex crimes.  It reminds me, l'havdil to differentiate, of how Al Capone was convicted and jailed for income tax crimes.  So, the lesson is if you're going to do something "risky" keep the rest of your life clean.


Yonatan said...

A couple of points from a different perspective. I am a software developer by trade, so I keep more in tune with the digital world than most.

Without judging Mr. Assange negatively or positively on what he has done, the sex crimes he is accused of in Sweden are laughable. If you read what the 2 women are accusing him of you would ask "where's the crime".

Concerning the hackers, their not stealing anyone's money out of their account. They are, however, shutting off access to websites of organizations that are not allowing wikileaks to operate. Tit for tat. They're not standing around and complaining about big brother, but are actively doing something (whether it is the right thing or not is a different discussion) about it.

How do you feel about Iceland cutting Visa off from operating in their country because they won't allow payments to transact from those that wish to donate to wikileaks? I was amazed that a country would still do what is right and fight the machine.

In the final analysis, we used to have a mechanism that did the same thing as Assange, it was called the free press. That hardly exists anymore. The internet has taken its place and the powerful that control the news organizations now are trying to silence and control the internet also.

I say lets have the truth.

Have a great remainder of the week Batya.

violet said...

Assange is all for transparency . . . except when it comes to him.

"Assange’s lawyers argued that the location – a 10-bedroom stately home – should not be disclosed on grounds of privacy during yesterday’s hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court."

from the Daily Mail

Batya said...

Yonatan, ordinary people couldn't access their money, right?
Wikileaks breaks the law; that's it.

Violet, good point.

Hadassa said...

I think that's there's much more to this than meets our eyes.
Are there any governments involved? International espionage?

Batya said...

Hadassa, there must be more.

Yonatan said...

FIrst of all, it wasn't wikileaks that did any sort of hacking to deny access to any website. It was a loosely grouped affiliation of people that took action to protest the stifling of truth. Its the same as if the new york times published something that made others take action in some way and you blaming the new york times for it. They are bringing the truth, others are reacting to that truth. Do you not want the truth?

Question - if I go out and block traffic to protest and to make my point and I keep you from getting to your job on time, is that any different? Does it matter what the reason is at all? Is there nothing that rises to a standard that we may protest it even in a way that may inconvenience others? Think about the bigger questions that are facing us as a country here - if some of the red lines were crossed, wouldn't you be out there doing what you could?

Batya said...

Yonatan, thanks, good points. What's freaky is how easy it apparently is for some people to hack into all these accounts.

Yonatan said...

They're not hacking into accounts. They're creating many web requests from lots of computers as quickly as they can. The server then cannot respond to the regular flow of business. Its like an electronic traffic jam. Its called a Ddos- distributed denial of service. As soon as they stop, its service as usual and nothing is damaged, except the company's reputation. If they were actually hacking into someone's bank account, that would just make them thieves.

Batya said...

thanks for the clarification; this is all out of my league.