Jan 26 2011
On Jan 19th, the Churchill Club held a discussion and dinner on the topic of WikiLeaks – Why it matters, Why it doesn’t? The discussion featured a diverse and very knowledge group consisting of Daniel Ellsberg – Former State and Defense Dept Offical prosecuted for releasing the Pentagon Papers; Clay Shirky – Adjunct Professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU; Neville Singham- Founder and Chairman of Thoughtworks; Peter Theil- Technology Entrepreneur, Investor and Philanthropist, founder of PayPal; Jonathan Zittrain – Professor of Law and Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University; and moderated by Paul Jay, CEO and Sr. Editor of The Real News Network.
The discussion started on the topic of the issue of privacy and transparency in the government, and the role that WikiLeaks played in it. A unique perspective was given by Ellsberg, who related the current situation to the environment and circumstances surrounding the Pentagon Papers. The discussion then weaved in and out of 4th amendment issues and current/historic governmental policy.
One of the major digressions in the discussion was in the area of corporate decision making and government influence. The topic was opened with the reviewing of how a key timed call from a ranking Senator to Amazon resulted in them turning off the WikiLeaks hosting service. This decision influenced the financial community to also turn off or reduce support for donations to Wikileaks and impact thier operation. The issue that was discussed was what was this decision process to make these business level decisions that have politcal impact. The current interpretation of the constitution does not cover the actions and influences of companies, only the actions of the government. In these cases, the question was raised – are multinational companies creating their own interpretation of transparency and secrecy based on either directly or in-directly working with government to foster agendas and actions that may be otherwise regulated? The impact of these decisions have both financial and societal impact on the use community for the internet. These decisions also drive the supply chain for security products for cloud based services and the user base and for privatized access clouds and networks.
Further discussion on this and other 4h amendment issues can be seen in the video replay of the event.