Author Topic: Is Transparency Overrated as a Vehicle for Change in the Western World?  (Read 3280 times)

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Offline Sandra K Eckersley

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The #WikiLeaks narrative presents a struggle over the promise & limits of transparency & disclosure’s presumed effects. In-depth academic research into the affect of Wikileaks revelations so far and how its transparency agenda has realistically made little impact in the towards change in the Western world.


http://t.co/6CfSMAAgLA

Offline mayya

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WikiLeaks, transparency and distrust
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2013, 14:40:06 PM »
WikiLeaks, transparency and distrust

by BERİL DEDEOĞLU
[email protected]
09 March 2012, Friday

Nothing can be kept secret for a long time in today’s world. It is essentially a good thing that everything is more transparent than ever because politicians, economic actors and anyone else who might misuse their power have nowhere to hide.

However, being watched at all times makes people realize they are vulnerable at all times. In other words, with increasing transparency, people become worried about their personal privacy and even security.

People are right to have doubts about too much transparency, especially when they are not sure who is watching them and for what purpose. Ordinary citizens are worried because they feel that everyone can use information against someone else at anytime. It is known that in the past, many dangerous decisions were made behind walls of secrecy, many truths have been buried and many nations have been deceived too many times. It is true that secrecy is often defended in the name of security, nevertheless too much secrecy nourishes a feeling of insecurity, while too much transparency creates another kind of insecurity. One can’t talk of democracy when people are constantly kept in the dark, but this doesn’t mean that transparency automatically leads to democracy.

The technology that records and publishes everything that politicians say or write is now available. Nevertheless, the divulging of all “secrets” or details about people creates information pollution, too. Besides, no one can guarantee that every piece of information presented as “revealed secrets” is accurate. It is perfectly possible to manipulate the public opinion through false information by claiming that these are spectacular revelations. When one can’t verify the accuracy of these “secrets,” one can equally distrust the one who unveiled this “secret” and the one who has denied the correctness of this information.

One of the best examples of all these paradoxes can be found in the recent WikiLeaks scandal. In fact, ordinary people don’t give so much importance to the information released by WikiLeaks because they already know that certain matters were being kept secret from them. More than trying to verify which parts of the information is correct, people care about the repercussions that these revelations have on their daily lives.

Some of the latest WikiLeaks revelations about Turkey are worrying. We must first emphasize that these leaks have above all increased the distrust of the Turkish public opinion towards the US. The private company whose internal emails were released is US based and it appears that it has gathered intelligence everywhere about everything. This intelligence collecting is even seen as an antagonistic act against Turkey. That’s why, more than the release itself, the Turkish public has focused its attention on the informants and those who have solicited this information.

The most spectacular released “information” concerns the government. The general view is that there are foreign conspirators who would like to present our government as being fragile. However, most people in Turkey, no matter which party they voted for, will not be pleased that some people are trying to make out their government is falling apart and that the prime minister has serious health problems. They will not be pleased because they know that there is no credible alternative to the present government and that political instability means economic difficulties sooner or later.

We must keep in mind that the publication of these secret documents is not the purpose, but is a means to achieve something else. What will be interesting to observe is how political leaders in different countries will now make use of this information, documents, analyses and gossip in their decision-making processes.

http://www.todayszaman.com/columnists-273839-wikileaks-transparency-and-distrust.html

Offline mayya

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Why Wikileaks' Bid for Radical Transparency Failed
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2013, 14:43:11 PM »

Science News


Why Wikileaks' Bid for Radical Transparency Failed


Mar. 23, 2012 — The scale and significance of the 2010 WikiLeaks disclosures were overstated, according to new research. Analysis of the WikiLeaks debacle in the International Review of Administrative Sciences, published by SAGE on behalf of the Institute for Administrative Sciences (IIAS), serves to highlight four key reasons why radical transparency is hard to achieve, and why a technological fix alone will not achieve it.
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Some regard the WikiLeaks disclosures of 2010 as evidence that conventional mechanisms for controlling government-held information are breaking down, heralding a new world of 'radical transparency'. However, Alasdair Roberts of Suffolk University Law School, Boston USA, argues that claims that old-style secrecy is over are an illusion, and that Wikileaks' advocates have overstated their scale and significance.

"They also overlook many ways in which the simple logic of radical transparency -- leak, publish, and wait for the inevitable outrage -can be defeated in practice," Roberts says.

WikiLeaks' aim is to challenge 'increasing authoritarian tendencies' in government and the growth of unaccountable corporate power. By the end of 2010, WikiLeaks and its editor in chief and founder, Julian Assange, were in the eye of a media storm, with few doubting the significance of the extensive leaked material. Yet Roberts suggests that the 2010 leaks actually revealed the obstacles to achievement of increased transparency, even in the digital age.

The leaks' sheer size in terms of volume of pages was cited as proof of their significance -- these were the largest set of confidential documents ever leaked to the public. Yet in quantitative terms, the data's significance as a fraction of the total number of confidential documents is no greater than previous leaks during other eras. The sheer quantity of this type of data held by governments is constantly increasing.

On the Internet, commercial and political considerations compromise the free flow of information, just as they did when we relied on earlier communications technologies. When WikiLeaks released US State Department cables in November 2010, several companies that Wikileaks used, including Amazon Web Services, EveryDNS.net PayPal and Apple, cut off their services, citing contractual violations or threats to their own businesses that would hinder other customers. This complicated WikiLeaks' ability to distribute leaked information, and damaged it financially.

The radical transparency vision has a further difficulty, in that it neglects the significance of intermediation -- organizing, interpreting, and drawing attention to information. Skilled in the use of information technology, WikiLeaks' members were nonetheless daunted by the task of handling bulk data leaked from the Defence Department. WikiLeaks released a series of US military counterinsurgency manuals in 2008, anticipating a strong reaction and press attention. In reality it garnered little reaction because the material was too complex, and there was no clear story to grasp.

Wikileaks subsequently turned to a number of major media outlets to help with handling information releases. However, this also meant that the media became gatekeepers for the information, taking their own decisions regarding which content should be published, and what was newsworthy or what they had the budget to investigate.

Wikileaks expected its leaks to spark outrage, shifting public opinion. But the American public, in general, did not react with the expected level of outrage: perceptions about the conduct of the war in Afghanistan actually improved after WikiLeaks' July 2010 disclosures.

Roberts observes that: "The incidents revealed by WikiLeaks might not even be construed as abuses of power at all. On the contrary, they might provide reassurance that the American government is willing to act ruthlessly in the pursuit of American interests, and that it actually has the capacity to act ruthlessly."

The final difficulty with the vision of radical transparency is that it assumes a passive government reaction. In fact, governments have shown they can respond to such threats with "speed and brutality." US Army private Bradley Manning, the apparent source of all four of the 2010 leaks, has taken the hardest fall. US federal agencies have responded to the leaks by tightening administrative controls on access to sensitive information. Even if government officials lost control of the information itself, they have not lost their capacity to shape its interpretation.

"There is no such thing, even in the age of the Internet, as the instantaneous and complete revelation of the truth. In its undigested form, information has no transformative power at all," Roberts says. "Raw data must be distilled; the attention of a distracted audience must be captured; and that audience must accept the message that is put before it."

Roberts is a proponent of stronger accountability and increased transparency, for diplomatic and national security institutions. However, he concludes that this will require hard work, rather than a technological fix. "A major difficulty with the WikiLeaks project is that it may delude us into believing otherwise," he concludes.


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120323001244.htm

Offline Riney

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Re: Is Transparency Overrated as a Vehicle for Change in the Western World?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 17:22:17 PM »


     Thanks Sandra for posting that link, it is a lengthy document but worth a read. I found it very helpful in giving an in depth viewpoint on transparency and it's use in political reform. So many debates going on these days about leaking and transparency, it is nice to have all the different information about this complex issue.  :) 
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Is Transparency Overrated as a Vehicle for Change in the Western World?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2013, 17:46:16 PM »

    I read through the document and in summary I find conclusions very telling...

      "Neither of Julian Assange’s stated goals for WikiLeaks’ vigilante transparency seems to
            have transpired: the United States has neither been reformed by an
            informed and energized public, nor has it collapsed under the weight of an
            insurgent popular movement."

     "Western governments and societies are too complex and decentralized,
           their publics too dispersed, and their information environments too saturated for transparency,
           by itself, to have significant transformative potential. But one can remain committed to
           creating the conditions of a more transparent state and world without simply
           assuming and asserting transparency’s utopian effects."

     again the source of the statement as posted above :  http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=mark_fenster
       

         I think we all hope for a better world, and sometimes even radical changes are hoped and tried for. We will never know what may be able to be accomplished until we at least try something radical and new. I just think that we also need to learn from assumptions that were a little too far reaching, and continue to shape our processes as appropriate.   

       
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Is Transparency Overrated as a Vehicle for Change in the Western World?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2013, 17:07:26 PM »
Nov 24th 2013  


    Today on twitter there is a very interesting debate going on between WikiLeaks and Glenn Greenwald. It concerns the extent of the legal risks that Snowden is willing to take in the process of leaking the material he has leaked. You can read all about it on their twitter feeds....  Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald  and  WikiLeaks ‏@wikileaks. Several times Greenwald points out... 

     "Snowden already faces 30 years in prison just with these controlled, incremental publications..."

 "That may or may not be, but I'm going to leave it to the people taking the risks to make that choice for themselves."

 "Yes, that should really go without saying. But it's very easy to demand that *others take more risk."

 "Yes, he trusted me to adhere to our agreements about what would & wouldn't be published, 
           which is 1 reason he came to me."

 "Or to adhere to your agreement with the source. Or to protect him from legal risks he isn't willing to take."

      These statements are taken from an ongoing conversation that do not show all the comments from the other side, but the point I am trying to show is that basically Greenwald is explaining that Snowden has only agreed on "controlled, incremental publications.." in order to proceed in what one can assume would be his comfort level of responsible controlled leaking. 

     I commend Snowden in this because I think that vigilante style of leaking and transparency has not proven itself to be as beneficial as Julian Assange has claimed. The reason I have posted this comment here on this thread is because the link above is about an extensive study in which the research on this subject has shown this. 


  Transparency takes many forms in our world today. There is a whole range of different modes and vehicles of transparency. It is up to each individual to decide what is responsible and effective.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline mandingo

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Re: Is Transparency Overrated as a Vehicle for Change in the Western World?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2013, 20:34:49 PM »
Great topic, I would like to read more, just subscribed to it, and as I am new here, I would love to learn a lot more before I begin to actively discuss in the topics :)