On Wed, 8 Mar 2017 03:43:10 PM ja...@cleeland.org wrote:
> On Wed, 8 Mar 2017 03:05:00 PM russ...@coker.com.au wrote:
> > Jason, your analysis is insightful and well written.  But I disagree with
> > this paragraph.  The above article gives a clear example of the problems
> > with a "release all information" approach.  Releasing government
> > information that has no relevance to security (EG the amount of money
> > spent on coffee and biscuits for government employees) might be
> > harmless, but releasing information on citizens can be dangerous. 
> > Releasing the addresses of most women in a country has an obvious risk
> > of facilitating stalking and rapes.
> Russell, I don't disagree with the article about the dangers of releasing
> unfettered information. But the problem with having a secretive,
> unaccountable body deciding what is worth releasing to the public, and
> what isn't worth releasing to the public is that we have no idea what
> decisions are being made, why they are made, or what they are refusing to
> release.
> Which is kind of exactly the problem that wikileaks usually argue they are
> addressing. Governments are collecting information about us, and are then
> - in a secretive, unaccountable manner - deciding what information we may
> or may not have.

Except that Wikileaks are part of the problem being a secretive unaccountable 
body without any legal oversight that decides what to release to the public.

> Governments usually cite the argument, when they say they can't release
> some information, that by releasing the information they would be causing
> harm to the people they are supposed to be protecting. Strangely similar
> to the article you link to, and the argument about managing what is
> released. It's a legitimate point for governments to be making - except
> that we never find out what information governments happen to have chosen
> to keep from us for our own protection. And in that gap lies the problem
> wikileaks want to address.

The case that governments make is usually a lot weaker.  For example the US 
government claims that releasing information on civilian deaths in war zones 
is bad for propaganda.  That claim is based on the assumption that people 
don't already know about deaths in war zones, and I'm sure that friends and 
relatives of the deceased know it well.

The case for releasing personal details on most women in a country is 
obviously bogus.  There is nothing they could possibly all be doing wrong 
apart from voting for someone you don't like, and I hope we can all agree that 
persecuting people for voting for the wrong party is a bad idea.  The risks of 
releasing personal data on women is rape and murder.

> However we'll also never know what information wikileaks have chosen to
> keep from us for our own protection. So what's the difference?
> There is a slight difference. In a democracy, at least we have the thin
> veneer of an opportunity to influence our decision makers. And we have
> laws and systems designed to try and ameliorate the excesses of the
> dreaded establishment. Imperfect maybe. Let's face it, however crap they
> are, they all far exceed any public oversight or power we happen to have
> over wikileaks or Julian Assange. I'm not sure when the next election for
> the 'board' of wikileaks is happening, but I know for a fact that I don't
> get a vote.

It's his personal project.  He expells people who disagree.

> If we are replacing one flawed, failing, not-very transparent information
> overlord with another flawed, even less transparent overlord, we are
> really not doing ourselves any favours, no matter how beautiful the core
> idea behind wikileaks is.
> And when that organisation starts to play partisan politics with
> information it possesses, well it's turned into a monster that - if it
> isn't far worse than what it claims to be protecting us from - it's a
> least definitely no better.
> If wikileaks want to protect individuals by withholding some information,
> or holding it until they have vetted it - well great. We all support not
> hurting innocent people through thoughtless and rash actions. So do it "as
> soon as practicable".

But they released the data on Turkish women without vetting it even though 
there is no conceivable reason for doing so.  They have also released data 
about Saudi Arabia, so their excuse that lack of Russian language knowledge 
prevents them releasing data doesn't hold water.

> And if by releasing information two days after President Trump claims he
> was spied on by the CIA, then it makes wikileaks look like they are
> complicit with the new US administration, then wikileaks should wait a few
> weeks and do it at a time where it doesn't play into the hands of one
> political actor over another. As others have pointed out, it's not like
> anyone is astounded at this news. I know I'm not. Frankly, if the US
> government weren't doing exactly what the Chinese government, the Russian
> government, the French Government, the [insert any country's name]
> government is doing wouldn't we all be far more surprised?

In terms of Android malware there's a lot of Chinese and Russian criminal 
enterprises doing that.  People who believe that the US government only does 
good things should want better phone security to stop criminals.

> Anyway, that's all off topic. The point is, if wikileaks want to remain
> "above politics" then they have an obligation to do everything that they
> can to not only BE above politics, but also to APPEAR to be above
> politics.

Yes, that means both actions and statements.  If Assange said "I'd like to 
work with someone who knows Russian to get ready for Russian-language leaks" 
it would improve the public perception of him.  When he says that there's no 
need for leaks from Russia he sounds like a Russian agent.

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