Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
- The case against Julian Assange and if his leaks through his website WikiLeaks are ethical is a huge case. WikiLeaks is notorious for providing whistleblowers, hackers, and any other person with data they are not supposed to have access to a site in which they can release everything they know anonymously. This has led to an interesting case because WikiLeaks does not have a code of ethics. Instead, journalist Stephen J.A. Ward has asked a series of questions to try and establish where and when WikiLeaks ethics lie. This question has arisen ever since WikiLeaks had disclosed not only the NSA ”whistleblower” Edward Snowden, and the whistleblowing from Bradley Manning involving the US military.
- The potential risks of sensitive information being posted on WikiLeaks are of huge concern to the companies, and/or countries it affects. Take Bradley Manning for example, he put our countries national security at risk by releasing information to the Chinese about our military. So, ethically, is WikiLeaks posting of sensitive information ethical? Should a nation’s national security be put into jeopardy due to their website? Should WikiLeaks post random, anonymously provided information on their site? Another ethical issue would be at what line does WikiLeaks out their foot down and not post it? It seems like they will post anything and everything and without a code of ethics posted, it is unclear to the general public what is ethical to post and not.
- The action the employer or WikiLeaks in this case could have done is post a code of ethics that is well known and accepted cites wide. This would make the general public more informed at what the companies intentions were, and at what point is considered too far.
- I think the employees of WikiLeaks could have approached Julian Assange and tried to promote having a Code of Ethics in order to reduce future problems people may have with the cite
- Legally, WIkiLeaks has done no wrong doing in accordance with the law. Many governments have tried and all of them have failed at convicting Julian Assange on federal charges because the site is 100% legal. They have no legal liabilities and that is why they have not gotten into any legal trouble
- Using Code of Ethics would have impacted the overall negative response to the website. If people could easily see the WikiLeaks’ Code of Ethics, then there would have been a better understanding of their motives and why they do what they do. WikiLeaks should strongly consider publishing a Code of Ethics in order to clear up any negative connotations that people still have about their intentions.
- The case against Edward Snowden’s leak happened in May of 2013. He leaked important information regarding the United States’ program on national security that involves access to a large percentage of the population’s emails and many international emails as well. He leaked the information because he thought what the US was doing was wrong and he could not live in this country knowing the amount of surveillance happening so he leaked. He leaked the information to WikiLeaks which is a popular choice of many who have info to leak.
- The potential risks of this leak are huge from the United States perspective. The NSA provides a huge part of counter-terrorism efforts in the country because it allows them to catch potential terrorist attacks before they can even start. Many acts of terrorism are stopped without the public’s knowledge and the NSA is huge part of that. This leak could lead to the public questioning the surveillance and that could lead to less security options which could lead to terroristic activity being executed.
- Snowden’s ethics are challenged by many when it comes to his decision to leak. One would be his ethical stance on the position he was in. IN the NSA Code of Ethics/Conduct, it clearly states that at the end of the day, national security and personal privacy are equally important and that sacrificing one for the other is a false decision. So, ethically, this is a problem because as an employee who chose to be a part of the firm should know that ethically, the balance of the two is essential in order for being successful in the occupation. The second ethical problem with Snowden is what were his initial intentions when applying for the job? He was only employed for three months which sparks the question, why did he even apply? He certainly must have known a few things about the firm and what his occupation would be, so did he apply only to exploit the NSA’s plans? When looking at the timeline it seems like a very possible conclusion to what his initial intentions were.
- The employer seemed to have its hands tied in this case. When looking at how fast the whole process happened, the firm really could not have done anything different. They hired a well-qualified man, who seemed to have potential on being a good employee for them. The goals and values of the firm are clearly stated and are probably required to be well-known in order to be hired at the NSA, and the internal intentions of a prospective employee can easily be hidden from its employers. When it comes to whistleblowing, the timeline happened way too fast or Edward Snowden to have declared an act of whistleblowing in a legal manner. Thus, the firm had really no actions to take because Snowden illegally leaked and that is why he is serious legal trouble.
- Edward Snowden could have obviously followed the legal and acceptable way to execute whistleblowing rather than leaks information to WikiLeaks. He then could have read the Code of Conduct/Ethics on the NSA website and carefully reviewed the goals of the firm and its values. Such as equal importance to national security and privacy. This easily is the main goal of the firm and Snowden obviously was not in-line with that objective. Snowden could have also looked over the role of his occupation and really do some self-reflecting on if the job was for him, that is, if he seriously went into the job with the expectations of working for the firm. If not, he obviously could have took a step back and realize that his intentions were ethically wrong and that he should have not accepted the job.
- He is in a lot of legal trouble due to his theft of government property, and his unauthorized use of government information. These violations fall under the category of espionage. Some argue though, because he did not sell information, or try to hurt the United States, espionage is not a valid accusation, but the United States treats any federal information leak as espionage. So, from how the US treats information leaks, the acts of Edward Snowden were illegal.
- Using the Code of Ethics would not have impacted this situation that much. Snowden knew the job that he was taking, and the company can only assume that the potential employers have read and agree with the Code of Ethics. Obviously, in any security firm, leaking information is more than likely against the firm’s ethics. Therefore, using the Code of Ethics would not have made much of an impact.
- Bradley Manning was an intelligence analyst for the United States military. He was convicted of actions that violated the Espionage Act. He released the largest set of documents ever to the public. The leak happened in January 2010 through WikiLeaks. By February 15th, WikiLeaks had posted all of the information Manning had provided them with. The reason for the leaks was to try show the public the blatant violation of human rights that were happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The leaks were a potential risk the United States because Manning had released almost all the Iraq war documents which in turn were referred to as the Iraq War Logs. Due to the large amount of information leaked, the nation could have been in risk because some military information became public for any other nation to use.
- The ethical issues of this case are interesting. Manning had a personal ethical issue. With access to all of that information, it was an ethical decision in order to release the violations against human rights, or to keep quiet despite the obvious infractions. Another ethical issue Manning faced was either to pursue getting the military to act on the infractions, or simply leak the information right to WikiLeaks. Manning chose to leak the information rather than try and resolve the issue internally. Both of the decisions come down to the ethics of the employer the whistleblower is under, and because it was the military, I believe leaking the information was ethically wrong because of the way it was executed.
- The US military could have easily followed their own Code of Ethics/Conduct and punish the committers of the horrible war crimes. The way the Code of Ethics/Conduct is written, the US military should have taken more priority in resolving this issue rather than covering it up.
- Manning could have easily executed whistleblowing a lot more professionally rather than mass leaking info to WIkiLeaks. This Code of Ethics the military lives by which states to never give any information up under any circumstances was clearly violated in the leak. This means that neither the military, nor Manning was ethically sound in this case
- Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison due to the violation of the Espionage Act. The military was legally responsible to pursue Manning legally for the violation against the Espionage act, and Manning probably know wholeheartedly the legal consequences that would come with such a huge leak of federal information.
- The Code of Ethics can easily be followed more closely by both parties in this case. The military did not act ethically sound with its own code and neither did Manning. Manning did violate the Code with releasing military information to the public which means foreign states have complete access to the information. The thing to learn from this case is that the employer and the employees need to be equally responsible for following the set Code of Ethics.