wikileaks: anticipation

This just cracks me up: SEC Keeping Close Tabs on BofA’s Wikileaks Situation. Between that and Bank of America buying up derogatory domain names in bulk, everyone’s on tenterhooks to see what’s going to happen, well before any actual leaks. I absolutely love it. More to the point, though, I would hope that BoA is doing a bit more to prepare for a coming storm than just buying up domain names (really? domain names as a line of defense? — sorry, there I go off laughing again). I don’t need no domain name to rail against BoA.

But more seriously, all that in conjunction with Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks has me hopeful that there will be some major corrections dealt to the financial and banking industry.

What’s interesting is the latest reports are that U.S. officials privately say WikiLeaks damage limited. What’s that you say? Puffing up the damage done by Wikileaks to better enable prosecution of Wikileaks and/or Assange? I mean look, you’ve all but condoned veiled death threats to its founder, harshly condemned all aspects of Wikileaks and you pressured at least three companies to stop the flow of money toward Wikileaks. Not only that, you’ve demanded — using a gag order that Twitter managed to overturn — information on clients involved in Wikileaks from Twitter and we have to assume at least several others who might not have fought the gag order as Twitter did such as Facebook and Google. And you’ve turned air travel into rather a living hell for at least one person and quite probably a few more with illegal (Fourth Amendment) search and seizures.

I bet collaborator companies PayPal, Visa and Amazon — and any other company that went along with a gagged court order that we don’t yet know about — really feel foolish about now (or if they don’t, they should; and again major props to Twitter). In any case, we as customers should take the above into consideration when patronizing (or not) these companies in the future. And I certainly hope that future arm twisting by the government is taken with a larger — much larger — grain of salt by these companies. Especially if you want to retain any kind of customer loyalty.

The damage Wikileaks inflicts is not in the actual content of the leaks — which has been consistently handled by Wikileaks via external newspaper recommendation and publication practices to minimize direct threat or endangerment. Think about it. Data is data. Governments and corporations have been busily collecting data on individuals for decades. Inevitably, people will collect data on the governments and corporations. The truth is, the threat from Wikileaks is based in that simple fact. Add to the mix the online culture that has itself been busy over the last few decades in developing techniques to manage and distribute data. Even more radically, Wikileaks represents the rise of an independent, stateless means of check and balance among nations and of transnational corporations, a transparent clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of any kind of information (even now we’re moving from leaked diplomatic cables to leaked bank records). It isn’t there yet. It might not get there — but something similar to it will — and must, if we are not to be crushed by a nation-corporate hegemony.

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