Assange: An Information Bin Laden? I Think Not

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, at New Media Days 09Image by New Media Days via FlickrFor the past week word was he was hiding in a cave in Great Britain. Now looks like he has been caught. If he had a lawyer he was in touch with on British soil, I mean. It was only a matter of time.

The only time I got alarmed was when he yesterday threatened to let go the thermonuclear weapon. He was going to give people the encryption key so they could see everything he had managed to get. I was not worried about more private talk important people might have had. There were information sources in countries with shady regimes. If they knew who you were, you likely disappeared, and not voluntarily like Assange did.

This was the bigger, badder version of the Facebook privacy brouhaha. Only this involved the mightiest state on the planet. Privacy is important. It is important for the individual. It is important for a state.

There is a legal logic that since the guy who downloaded the whole thing was not on Assange's payroll or anything like that, and since Assange does not work for any state, this is not an espionage issue but a free speech in the age of social media issue.
The Subtle Roar of Online Whistle-blowing: Jul...Image by New Media Days via Flickr
Jay Rosen of New York University has called Wikileaks "the first stateless media house." That was of interest to me because only hours before that I coined the phrase the information Bin Laden. For no reason other than that the guy was hiding.

I am not bothered that the world now knows the Saudi king has been urging America to invade Iran. I guess that puts the Saudis and the Israelis on the same side.

Or a diplomat saying "No one believes in Afghanistan anymore." It is like in 1998 word came out the Prime Minister of Australia had privately said India was a country "you flew over on your way to Europe." Next thing you know an Australian minister shows up in India on a state visit and there is no one to receive him at the airport. Some or maybe many white people still think of India to be a recovering former colony of Britain. The truth is India could buy Britain five times over.

My tech/new media angle to Wikileaks has been, but should not all these ambassadors and heads of state be tweeting by now on their own? I had coffeee. I said hello to Maliki. Here is the picture of my breakfast in Dubai. I don't think Karzai's brother is correct.

The State Department does cables, not email yet. Wow. The State culture is in such stark contrast to tech startup culture. With tech startups, they set up their Twitter and Facebook pages, and their blogs before they even announce they are a startup. They are used to sharing so much. If you follow enough techies on enough social media platforms, it feels like you never leave their company. They are always with you.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, at New Media Days 09Image by New Media Days via Flickr
I think the Saudi king needs to get on Twitter. And I think the American ambassadors across the world need to get on Twitter and tweet themselves. I think Assange should not unleash the thermonuclear weapon. And the "sex by surprise" charge should be dropped. Let's face it, not one powerful country around the world is happy with Assange, and it is to do with the leaks. Trumped up charges should be dropped. This is not about ejaculation, this is about leaking.

This episode has been the first major social media jolt to the nation state in the 21st century. Too bad it had to be this way. The nation state has to "get" social media on its own.
New York Times: British Court Denies Bail to Assange in Sex Inquiry: despite the presence in court of several prominent people ready to vouch for him, he was called a flight risk and ordered to remain in custody until a further court session on Dec. 14 ..... Assange would appeal the denial of bail. .... Dozens of WikiLeaks supporters who had gathered outside the courthouse converged on vehicle, banging on its side panels and yelling "We love you!" ..... the latest twist in the drama swirling around WikiLeaks following its publication of vast troves of leaked United States government documents. ..... Assange’s associates said his detention would not alter plans for further disclosures like the wealth of field reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that it released over the summer and fall, and, over the past nine days, confidential diplomatic messages between the State Department and American representatives abroad. ...... “Today’s actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won’t affect our operations: we will release more cable
The Subtle Roar of Online Whistle-blowing: Jul...Image by New Media Days via Flickrs tonight as normal” ...... “over 100,000 people” had downloaded the entire archive of 251,287 cables in encrypted form. Only around 1,000 of the cables have so far been released; in many, names of sources who might be compromised or endangered were redacted. ...... “If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically,” Mr. Assange wrote in a question-and-answer session on the Web site of the British newspaper The Guardian. Mr. Stephens, the lawyer, reiterated that warning on Tuesday saying a “a virtual network” of “thousands of journalists” around the world would ensure that the rest of the documents would be published. ..... His supporters cast him as a crusader ...... Prosecutors said he had refused to be finger-printed or give a DNA sample, and, when asked for his address offered a post office box in Australia. ..... accusations lodged months ago by two Swedish women who said separate consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange became nonconsensual after he was no longer using a condom ...... the charges were trumped up in retaliation for his WikiLeaks work. ..... he went to a central London police station by prior agreement with the authorities. ..... Assange said he did not consent when asked whether he understood that he could agree to be extradited to Sweden ..... what could be protracted legal wrangling over his fate ...... Assange might resist extradition on the grounds that Swedish authorities could interview him by video-link from Stockholm or at their embassy in London and that the extradition request itself is politically motivated ...... the police said: “Officers from the Metropolitan Police extradition unit have this morning arrested Julian Assange on behalf of the Swedish authorities on suspicion of rape.” ...... Assange was “accused by the Swedish authorities of one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape, all alleged to have been committed in August 2010.” ...... the Justice Department in Washington said it was conducting what Attor
Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.Image via Wikipedianey General Eric H. Holder Jr. called “a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature” into the WikiLeaks matter. ..... Assange depicted WikiLeaks as a proponent of what he termed scientific journalism, which “allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on.” ...... “Democratic societies need a strong media, and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest.” ...... Amazon.com and PayPal.com, have cut off commercial cooperation with the organization. ..... Visa said on Tuesday that it had suspended all payments to WikiLeaks ..... a Swiss bank froze an account held by Mr. Assange ..... cables it had obtained, reportedly from a low-ranking Army intelligence analyst. .... 1,325 cables, or fewer than 1 percent of the total, have been made public by all parties to date. ...... while it is clearly illegal for a government official with a security clearance to give a classified document to WikiLeaks, it is far from clear that it is illegal for the organization to make it public. ...... in a warning shot of sorts, WikiLeaks on Monday released a cable from early last year listing sites around the world — from hydroelectric dams in Canada to vaccine factories in Denmark — that are considered crucial to American national security. ....... Nearly all the facilities listed in the document, including undersea cables, oil pipelines and power plants, could be identified by Internet searches. ..... Der Spiegel in Germany, El País in Spain, Le Monde in France and The Guardian. The Guardian shared the cable collection with The New York Times.
This is not about sex. This is about redefining the nation state in the age of social media. And, yes, this is also about privacy, that of the individual as well as the state.

Does his "threat" make him an information suicide bomber? You gotta ask.
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