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Wikileaks is good for Democracy?

01.03.16

Wikileaks is good for democracy

This debate was filmed at the Debating Matters 2011 UK competition finals. In this semi-final, panellists debate whether Wikileaks is good for democracy or a hindrance to it. In the wake of the leaking of more than two and a half thousand US Embassy Cables at the end of 2010, Wikileaks became a focal point of public debate. But, are founder Julian Assange and his team making history by increasing accountability and improving the democratic process or are they simply whistle blowers severely damaging diplomacy and democracy whilst giving investigative journalism a bad name?

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Related topics: Civil Liberties, Debates, Democracy

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Marvel Avenger said:

The wiki-leaks head is a fugitive in the eyes of the US government and Bradley Manning is on trial for aiding the enemy, yet the original question of ‘is wiki-leaks good for democracy’ seems a legitimate question? America does not want transparency because it is a corrupt state, funding terrorists in Syria and bombing countries with impunity! The latest NSA wiretapping is all too familiar to most awake people who knew this was happening all along. It is an insult to call the US a democracy when it blatantly violates the laws of the land, namely the 4th amendment of the US constitution which equates to treason, and thus the death penalty for everyone in the Obama administration. The NDAA of 2013 gives Obama the power to indefinitely detain any American citizen without a trial. Once again, it is an insult to call America a democracy when is violates the rights of the citizens vigorously time and time again, and under the guise of the ‘war on terrorism’ the biggest hoax in American history!

Shreya said:

Like all investigative and probing journalism, Wikileaks takes a risk of undermining the government for the sake of greater transparency and change. The greater transparency we have, the better off society is. The dissemination of crucial knowledge allows the people who support and fund the government to realize what it is they are paying and intrusting the government to do. Confidentiality on the part of the government in past history has led to some terrible events, quietly tucked away for years and years. The more people know, the better they are informed to continue to support these actions, or have the option to fight against them. Until viewing this debate, I would not have realized that there was another side to this. I appreciate the opposing view point, but still believe that further government transparency is aided by organizations like Wikileaks.

Baz said:

I think Wikileaks panders to the idea that more information means more knowledge and more power. The transparency agenda simply makes us more suspicious about the deviousness of others (usually politicians) and in turn makes people more devious as they become more ‘transparent’. Wikileaks does not represent a democratically inspired challenge to present day politicians and their policies but thinks of itself as more clever than this, which I think reveals its’ disdain for the potentially political-democratic public.

Camille said:

Really interesting topic. I would have just assumed that Wikileaks was good for democracy but watching the debate really made me consider my view more critically. At the end of the day, I still think Wikileaks is good for democracy, but now I realise that that nonetheless doesn’t mean that it isn’t problematic. We should never trust blindly. Both sides made some excellent points. Those are 4 very switched on youngsters who all have bright futures ahead of them! Congrats to both teams.

Jenny said:

oh, come on what we had known from Wikileaks?! nothing what is really important. it’s was a big fun to read it :)

Fadel said:

This debate made me not sit on the fence anymore on Wikileaks as i saw both sides but i would take what the person before me further as although there is a clear simplified good and bad that is projected but worse than that there is no political project. It’s just information, lots of it, make what you will of it they say but I want more – let Wikileaks come out and say what they think and put forward a some politics behind it, but they don’t and then they say they are the goodies and radical. I think that doesn’t help democracy, it is cowardly and feeds into just information being good enough but it is not.

Franky said:

Great brain food. I instinctively think that even though a lot of the information from Wikileaks was dull so what, they have the right to put it out there. Is it good for democracy, that is where I think perhaps we give it too much credence. Wikileaks seems to do exactly what they say governments and armies do – say there is a really simple ‘baddie’ out there that we need to crush. Crush with paper trails, not convinced.

Beverley said:

Really interesting debate, wasn’t sure I was going to get into it but it wobbled my thinking. Although I really don’t agree with the argument that some things should be kept secret for the good of our armed forces! As one of the judges said, that is a bit ironic as you sign up to kill so no sympathy there.

Stefan said:

I agree that providing us with information about the powers that be is good, if we really do think that freedom of information is essential for a democratic society than it’s simple – Wikileaks wins. Yet I don’t think it is as simple as that and this debate was really good as it left me in more doubt about what I thought about the issue, I thought I was clear but now I am not. Take for example the argument about transparency being just good for democracy, is it? I know I have conversations that I want to keep private, and that is not just in my personal life. The idea that everything has to be transparent is misleading, transparency equals honest – when underlying that we are saying we don’t trust anyone. I am going to have to watch the debate on transparency you guys have put up to work this out more.

Katie said:

I am all for independent journalism that digs deep, when the phone hacking scandal was so big, I found myself sticking up for journalists being able to pry. That is what get the facts, the inside information that you need to crack a story wide open. So the Wikileaks providing us information and not just journalists can only be good, that is if you believe we, the ordinary folk, are capable of sifting through information and making our minds up to what is trollop and what is worth thinking about.