Everyone in the media is closely following the current travails of Julian Assange and the ramifications of the Wikileaks news torrent.
Whatever your political leanings, or opinion of the legal issues confronting Mr Assange (and I talk here of the civil suits threatened by the US among others, not the Swedish prosecutor’s charges), it is impossible to ignore the issues that his case highlights, with regard to press freedom, international law, and the influence of government on the unfettered exchange of news and views.
I’m far from being an expert on these topics, so my own reaction is formed as a mere member of the public, rather than expert commentator. My colleague Richard Sharpe no doubt has some finely-honed observations on this very matter.
Assange’s point is that he is simply forcing us all to confront these issues in the face of this new and connected world that we all inhabit. Like most frontier towns, we are working without the benefit of recognised patterns of acceptable behaviour, and therefore the barriers and boundaries are not clearly understood. I must say in this setting it would seem sensible to err on the side of openness and transparency, and for that reason I respect Mr A in his willingness to be such a bold guinea pig for this ongoing experiment…
I can also see of course that some official communication should be kept confidential, and drawing that line has never been easy. Surely it is a responsibility shared by us all to decide what is right in these circumstances? Of course theory and practicality are separated by a chasm here, particularly when the legal systems around the globe are so clearly trailing in the wake of technical advances and social communication channels.
We are certainly living in interesting times, and I am working to maintain my faith that future generations will be able to read all about them without fear of persecution or prosecution.
Watch (t)his space.