WikiLeaks is a website, which over its four years of being active, has uploaded thousands of documents, that have been procured via some sort of source or leak. While increasing public knowledge, these documents have been of a very sensitive nature, and have revealed secret information about war operations, government procedures, and other organizations. The issues these documents cover are often unethical and may put the organizations concerned in a PR tightspot, or into federal court. Several attempts have been made at shutting the site down and silencing the information.Fortunately, no-one has succeeded yet. What is debatable, however, is how ethical it is for the site to post this sort of information for everyone to read.
At first, it may seem logical that what WikiLeaks is doing is ethical, because they are giving people the truth. After all, in a free country, the people do have the right to know. One of the base rights in democratic countries is the Freedom of press.
Freedom of press means the following: “Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials.While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections. ” -Wikipedia. Indeed, Wikileaks is not in breach of any laws.
That aside, from the viewpoint of the people, an organization which releases information about the government and any surrounding organizations should be considered ethical. This is because it increases public knowledge and awareness of whats really going on. However, from the viewpoint of the government, Wikileaks is a large potential danger to the governments implicated in the released documents.Documents containing sensitive or deniable operations, processes, or happenings can cause several problems.
Firstly, if the information contains something wildly unethical, it may cause revolt amongst the people, which in turn can snowball into a nationwide crisis. Needless to say, information is very dangerous in the hands of the masses. Secondly, the leaks can put international relations at risk. Information of deniable operations, conspiracies and so on, can turn countries against each other. Short from total war, it can cause a severe disaster in relations between two countries.
Taking this into consideration, Wiki leaks is unethical, as it potentially puts the whole country, population included, into danger. While being on the right side of the law, the site endangers everyone mentioned in the documents. Apart from governments, the site may also put individuals who are specifically mentioned, in danger. People who have done something unethical may be subjected to unlawful prosecution or public hate. Keeping this information secret could be keeping the whole country safe Looking at both sides of the argument, it becomes a dilemma of ethics vs. ffect. In a democratic country, it should be considered ethical to increase public awareness of the government, and other organizations which play a part in people’s lives.
On the other hand publication of this sort information is danger to governments and the people they govern, and as such is unethical. Because the information puts people in danger. In my opinion keeping people safe is the government’s main priority, so they are right to label Wikileaks unethical, and take steps to prevent the leaking of information.