This weeks class topic was examined some of the impacts and changes current media platforms are beginning to affect governments. The readings for this week reveal the difficult task governments face in combating and controlling the movement of information in the digital age. As technology now allows vast amounts of data to be collected, stored and transferred as a society we all need to be aware of the benefits and dangers this may bring.
The cases of Edward Snowden and Wikileaks revealing classified government information to the public pose a difficult question. Should our governments maintain the ability to keep secrets from their people? Instances do occur that warrant the with withholding of government information from the public knowledge. For the sake of national security governments must keep certain information classified and away from the public eye. If extremist organisations such as terrorists obtained such information there could be devastating impacts to the state of international affairs.
A notable example of the dissatisfaction of people and their government is the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. After government denials, the severe torture techniques of prisoners were revealed with great public opposition. The transparency of government in this instance was not out of national security safety but due to the documented mistreatment of inmates.
The harder question to answer is who decides to the extent which information is safe for the public and which is not, and more importantly can they be trusted?
Styles and Hills’ articles both help to provide answers to the questions I raised about opening governments and creating a more transparent democratic process. The method of creating bills and laws through graining petition signatures which are then voted on in parliament helps to reinstate the power of democracy back into the peoples hands. This comes at a time when trust and engagement between people and their politicians are at an all time low.
I did find some irony between the readings this week. Individuals seem to want and expect more privacy but do not respect that same privacy for their governments.
Morozov, Evgeny (2013) ‘The Real Privacy Problem’, MIT Technology Review, October 22, <http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/520426/the-real-privacy-problem/>
Wikipedia (n.d.) ‘Edward Snowden’, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Snowden> (a very good account. You should read at least the open section, before the “contents”, and then skim through the rest)
Styles, Catherine (2009) “A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’, <http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/>
Hill, David J. (2012) ‘Finland’s Next Laws To Come From Online Proposals By Citizens’, Singularity Hub, October 11, <http://singularityhub.com/2012/10/24/finlands-next-laws-to-emerge-from-online-crowdsourced-proposals/>