Yesterday, the UN and the Organization of American States issued a joint statement on WikiLeaks. I think it’s a very good statement, and I urge everyone to read it. It contains some sanity in a discourse that so far has sounded almost kafkaesque. Read it here.
Some of the more interesting lines (that I strongly agree with) from this statement are as follows:
“Secrecy laws should define national security precisely and indicate clearly the criteria which should be used in determining whether or not information can be declared secret.”
It seems obvious from the amount of classified documents, and the amount of people with access to such, that the US has failed miserably in this regard. A hopeful future outcome of this whole situation is more precisely defined and enforced laws around secrecy.
In the same sections, this gem appears: “In accordance with international standards, information regarding human rights violations should not be considered secret or classified.” – yes, indeed.
“Such illegitimate interference includes politically motivated legal cases brought against journalists and independent media, and blocking of websites and web domains on political grounds.”
I am very happy to see UN specifically call out the case of politically motivated blocking of websites and web domains. To me, this is one of the more dangerous slippery slopes right now.
“Calls by public officials for illegitimate retributive action are not acceptable.”
Any official who has called for Assange to be treated as a terrorist or enemy combatant should be seriously considering stepping down from office. That one of them is a possible future presidential candidate is a shame to the US.
“Filtering systems which are not end-user controlled – whether imposed by a government or commercial service provider – are a form of prior censorship and cannot be justified. Corporations that provide Internet services should make an effort to ensure that they respect the rights of their clients to use the Internet without arbitrary interference.”
I ended up quoting the whole section five. It is extremely important and at the core of what is happening right now. Seeing filtering systems as censorship means that several companies and governments have clearly been responsible for undue censorship the last few weeks. And if we technologists don’t speak up right now, we risk accepting this behavior. This is why I see Amazon’s behavior as so morally corrupt.