By Matthew Hill
Security of “top secret” information – or, perhaps, the lack of it – has been dominating the international headlines recently.
First we had the WikiLeaks scandal, featuring Julian Assange – the Australian computer programmer who brought “classified” government information before the public; then came the furore over Edward Snowden, who released CIA information that detailed the scale of surveillance that security services had conducted; then, most recently, came the trial of Bradley Manning – an ex-American soldier who fed classified documents into the public domain.
For their offences, Assange and Snowden have been forced into hiding, attempting to seek refuge in any country’s embassy that will protect them; and Manning has been convicted of some twenty charges by a US court. He now awaits sentencing.
In light of these events, it seems appropriate to ask ourselves a searching question: if we live in a democracy – which, supposedly, we do – why should our governments be allowed to withhold information from us?
Assange, Snowden and Manning have each talked of their desire to let the world know the information that concerns them – whether that be details of the government’s snooping, or the military’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If this does really concern us, do we not have a right to know? And, as a consequence, should the whistleblowers who release it be convicted?
If you’ve got an opinion either way, please let us know in the comments section below. Maybe you think that information should be free to all; or, perhaps you’re of the opinion that classified documents are classified for a reason – it’s for our own safety.
Let your opinion be known!
Featured image used under Creative Commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/6984555973/