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Wikileaks Could Be 2010′s Version Of Napster

December 29, 2010

Many people consider Wikileaks to be the 2010 version of Napster, saying it is a moment in the “evolution of how technology changes,” according to a recent report by the AFP news agency.

Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of technology and politics blog techPresident.com, told AFP that he sees Wikileaks as a “Napster moment in the evolution of how technology changes the relationship between people and their governments.”

Wikileaks has released hundreds of thousands of secure U.S. documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy.

“The way in which we think about power itself is altered as a result of the Web,” said Rasiej.

“I would hope that after everything calms down that the government recognizes that it has to fight for openness and transparency and use classification only in rare occasions,” he said.

However, Rasiej told AFP he was concerned that instead of embracing greater transparency, “governments may try to invoke a cure that may be worse than the disease.”

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told AFP’s Chris Lefkow that any cyber clampdown may prove to be Wikileak’s legacy.

He said that the courts eventually shut down Napster, although it lives on in myriad reincarnations like on torrent site The Pirate Bay.

“Ten years from now no one’s going to look back and say Wikileaks was a good thing,” Lewis told AFP. “They may have started out with good intentions but it’s going to backfire.

“I think the thing that’s going to happen is people are going to step back and ask ‘Is this responsible politics?’ ‘Is this what we want?’ And I think the answer is going to be no,” he said.

“The Wikileaks people have been about as irresponsible as you can get and they’re going to provoke a response and the response will be to try to constrain this kind of activity in the future,” Lewis said.

“No government and no company is happy with the idea that somebody can steal their data and these guys can just publish it,” he said.

Media analyst Jeff Jarvis wrote an op-ed that he published on his blog Buzzmachine.com that said Wikileaks and the Internet have combined to “puncture” the power of government secrecy.

“Wikileaks has made us all aware that no secret is safe,” Jarvis said. “Let us use this episode to examine as citizens just how secret and how transparent our governments should be,” he said.

“For today, in the Internet age, power shifts from those who hold secrets to those who create openness. That is our emerging reality.”

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