Strange how so often I read public indignation over WikiLeaks comparing what Wikileaks has done with having their own personal files being hacked and made public. The presumption is that the government has all the rights of a private person. It’s as if many people really want their government to have all the privileges of private individuals. Many seem to think that unless the government has such personal privacy rights then it cannot protect their — the public’s — interests!
What happened to the presumption that governments are accountable to the people? I used to think of governments as public bodies. There was something called the “public service”. We used to speak about the “public interest” and the public’s right to know. Democracy itself was predicated on a free and open information society.
So when someone in that public service leaked a document to the press and the press published it, the scandal that would ensue would be over what the government had been up to in secret for fear of those to whom it was accountable.
The turn around from all of these values and assumptions staggers me somewhat. What an amazing turnaround that so many people now seem convinced that a government really should be treated like a private brother, only a bigger one.
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