Odds are good that if you want to practice a particular profession or trade, the state requires that you complete a specific course of training, pass some exams, and renew a license with them, sometimes requiring additional training. This is often sold as a way to ensure that everyone in a profession is competent to perform the job and helps protect the public from rank amateurs. The reality, however, is a much uglier thing revealing that industries often seek to be regulated and licensed as a way to cut down on competition and set up barriers to entry. It could be said that despite this, we still get a valuable service in weeding out those few bad actors. But with the Internet available to quickly spread both positive and negative feedback on businesses and individuals, is licensing even worth it anymore?
I’ve gone on the record saying that I think Mike Lee is a poser, someone who was at the right place at the right time saying the right things to get elected to the US Senate to replace “Bailout Bob” Bennett. I’ve doubted his sincerity from the moment the candidate nobody had heard of started a series of “lectures on the constitution” ahead of his official announcement. Just yesterday, he announced via Twitter and Facebook that he plans to take on Google in anti-trust hearings. The reasoning behind this shows a dangerous lack of understanding about both free markets and technology.
Wikileaks has probably just redefined the world we live in. I know, it’s really easy to make statements like that. In this case, it’s entirely true. Wikileaks has proved once and for all that the Internet has won in the war for access to information.
First off, it has proven that removing data is impossible. There are now 1200 (and counting) mirrors of their site data around the world, accessible to anyone. There’s even a “poison pill” of data floating around on bittorrent just waiting for the key to unlock it to be in the wild. By trying to quash the site via hosting providers, the feds have just been cutting up a starfish. If you really want data to be secure, you can’t let it get on the Internet. Once you do that, the game is over and you have lost.
Second, it shows that the Internet will absolutely react to companies that will not stick up for their customer’s rights. PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard have all been knocked offline by vigilantes angered at the termination of services. It’s all been done via volunteers who download an open-source application to volunteer their bandwidth for DDoS attacks. With the push of a button, someone can become part of a virtually untraceable weapon that can take down the engines of our commerce. That kind of ease should give pause to anyone else who won’t stick up for a customer’s rights.
Third, we’re now getting to see some truly atrocious goings-on from our foreign policy. Other nations trying to goad us into war with Iran? Check. Acting as foreign lobbyists for credit card companies? Check. Funding a contractor that buys underage boys to pimp out in Afghanistan? Check. We probably wouldn’t know any of these things without Wikileaks, and we have a right to know about these things before we’re asked to support our foreign policy.
A lot of people are saying some pretty ridiculous things about lives being in danger because of this sunshine. Hogwash. If any lives are in danger, it is because the federal government meddles too much in foreign affairs. We have no business manipulating the legislative process of another country. We have no business occupying another country. We have no business launching a preemptive war. These things, trying to extend American hegemony across the globe, are what put Americans in danger. That we now get to see the very ugly details of what that policy entails is just pointing out what we tried so hard not to know.
I’m hoping that the revelations posted by the site expand into the promised banking malfeasance and other corporate wrongdoings. I hope other governments get their dirty laundry hung out in the open. I hope these powerful interests get the full scope of their malevolent actions put on public display. After all, if you have nothing to hide, what’s the big deal?