Tuesday, December 7

The War on Information

I normally reserve this spot to talk about movies, but I feel compelled to write this piece. I think there is something going on right now which will drastically change the world in the future, and people are mostly overseeing it. This won't be an opinion piece, since I haven't made my mind up either. The only thing I want to say is that this subject is going to be big, and possibly a landmark for the world in which we will live in the future. And that most people today are too apathic towards it.

That subject is Wikileaks.

The direct reason for me writing this is this article. It turns out that Anonymous, the most well-known and possibly the most powerful collective of hackers in the world, have declared their support for Wikileaks. And to show it, they have begun attacking websites which have cut ties to Wikileaks. No websites were brought down, and it was a pretty harmless affair all in all. But it's what the spokesperson said that really got me thinking. I quote: "We feel that Wikileaks has become more than just about leaking of documents, it has become a war ground, the people vs. the government".

The people vs. the government. Let that sink in for a moment.

I take this as a declaration of war. This would mean a civil revolt. And the thing is that for one of the first times in history, arms would be not be taken up against a government because they were oppressive, but because of their very structure. The governments that are most affected by the leaks are democratic ones (or at least try to be) and are generally considered not to be corrupt police states. It's not the people in the government that are revolted against (they were voted in, after all), but the very structure of those governments. Or, to be more precies: the fact that the western world is currently being run in a way that allows (and in many cases even forces) their government to keep information from their citizens.

This is a bigger deal than it seems like. We live in an age where information is the most valuable resource there is, and people have gone to war for much less. And if this should turn into a citizen revolt for the free spread of information, the government is bound to lose. Anonymous hackers are the guerilla soldiers of our time: they can strike hard, fast and mean, and disappear without a trace. The music industry and Scientology (among others) have gone to war with them, and they didn't stand a chance. Coupled with the fact that this is one of the biggest distribution-of-information scandals ever, and certainly the most politically harmful, this has the potential to turn into a full-scale war between the government and the hackers.

If this war is truly fought out, things are going to change. Big. What the hackers are advocating, true transparency, is impossible to achieve with the power structures we have at the moment. Diplomacy without any holding back is like a relationship in which you constantly have to tell the other person what you dislike about them. It just doesn't work. And if the hackers manage to get the government on their knees, (this isn't all that hypothetical: if they get serious about it, they can completely block the information flow) we will see a complete restructuring of the power structures we have lived under for over 200 years.

I admit that this scenario has a lot of conditions to live up too, mot of which will probably never be realized. For my money, the hackers will probably call it quits long before they can claim their places as kings of the trolls. But as someone who has spent some time on the internet, I can assure you that this is going to change things one way or another. The music industry got a pretty bad shock when confronted with Napster, something they are still recovering from.

Imagine that happening to our governments.

The point to all this isn't that something should be done about this. I wouldn't have the faintest idea what to do. But I am absolutely sure that this is going to be a turning point in the way the internet will be used and structured in the future, and convinced that this is going to influence the way we are governed in the future. Reading up on it wouldn't be too bad an idea.


Yeah, what else?


  1. I have to say I agree with you. We may not know how things will change, but I'd bet anything they aren't just going to stay the same.

  2. Let's hope it does not force things into a Brave New World or 1984-type situation. If it does, it means civilization was meant to, all the time; and Internet has but accelerated the process. If, on the other hand, it doesn't... who knows.