Wikileaks: US Cables on Pakistan
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I think that the morality of lekaing/hacking is very context dependent. What expectation of privacy was there with the communication? Did the communication involve illegal/unethical actions of public importance? And what are the implications of the release on the public good (both negative and positive)?For ClimateGate, there was an expectation of privacy, any illegality/unethicalness was minor and banal, and the implications of the release were possibly to slow the adoption of climate change legislation (bad, but opinions differ), possibly to chill honest scientific discourse (bad), possibly to lead to more openness of datasets (good, mostly), and to really ruin a few individuals lives (bad). Overall: not worth it.For Wikileaks, there was an expectation of privacy (perhaps even stronger), it is still unclear what level of illegality/unethicalness was involved – perhaps more than ClimateGate, but less than the Pentagon Papers, and the results may be to chill private but honest diplomat discourse (possibly very, very bad)… or, to shine light on unethical behavior and incentivize better behavior (would be good, but I’m not convinced). I’m not convinced that the good outweighs the bad, and a lot of this would have been released in 3 to 4 decades for historians to pore over. There is also an asymmetry issue: if party A has their emails/cables leaked, and party B does not, party A will almost always be damaged in relation to B. This is true if A is climate scientists and B is skeptics, or if A is the US and B is other nations. To a certain extent, I’d prefer either a private world or a fishbowl world to a world in which a few arbitrary groups are hacked and then pilloried for behavior that is actually the norm. Anyway, those are some initial thoughts. I have to say, I didn’t really like the Sarah Palin email hack either, though I also worry that the hacker is going to get punished more than they deserve…