Wikileaks and Cyberspace Cultures in Conflict

Every few months, Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, make headlines for publicizing yet more titillating information passing through the U.S. government’s classified systems. Each round of publication does real damage to U.S. national interests, compromising relations with other countries and revealing to current and potential adversaries the internal thought processes of the U.S. government. Policymakers tend to approach these problems episodically — they view Wikileaks as a specific challenge. It may be that, but it also symbolizes a burgeoning conflict between two differing views of cyberspace and how it relates to society. One perspective generally holds that cyberspace must be managed in such a way that conforms it to society’s existing institutions, particularly in matters related to national security. Another philosophy holds that cyberspace is fundamentally reordering society and that, in doing so, it will unleash new possibilities in the story of human liberty. That conflict will run for decades, with consequences not just for U.S. national security, but for the very future of cyberspace.

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