I read today that PayPal has joined the list of companies abandoning and distancing themselves from Wikileaks. At the end of the post is this comment:
Although these companies have said that their terms of service forbid the support or facilitation of illegal activity, such pronouncements about Wikileaks are debatable. While it is a crime to leak classified information, receiving and publishing it is not.I acknowledge that there is room for debate about the legality of Wikileaks actionis, and I join with those calling them foolish for doing what they did regardless of the legality, but all of this punishment is happening in the social and business sphere, pre-trial.
Let me say that again. As far as I've heard, Wikileaks has not gone to trial. They have not had charges brought, and have definitely not been found guilty. Yet the US government is swinging their weight around in what amounts to an attempt to put the company out of business.
And what's happening? Company after company is caving, running as far away from these "villains" as they possibly can. Amazon and PayPal now get to define "criminal" activity? I should be very careful about what I use their services to buy, then, lest I trip some invisible "US Government Doesn't Approve" alert.
There's also more than a little bit suspicious about the "criminal charges" now being pressed against Wikileaks's founder. Admittedly, I haven't been following the case closely, but it sounds like a case that should have been thrown out before it had time to even look around the courtroom.
Why's this bother me? For one, our government doesn't have a very good record when it comes to government-sponsored witch hunts. Yes, I'm looking at you, Joe McCarthy. And this harassment of Wikileaks sets an uncomfortable standard.
What if they determine that the New York Times, in reporting on the Wikileaks case, aided in the dissemination of top secret information? What if Google, by returning search results about it, is culpable? Especially since most of the information that came out is, frankly, very stupid. Like Junior High note-passing stupid. "Sarkozy thinks Putin has a big nose and smells funny!" "Gaddafi's new girlfriend is a complete slut, and have you seen what he's wearing?"
Hey, Congress, if you really think Wikileaks did something damaging, arrest them. What, are you worried because you know it was completely legal, and you don't want the further embarrassment? Either put up or shut the hell up.
And Amazon and PayPal and all you other craven corporations? Stop shrinking away to hide just because the government looked at you all mean. That's not how it works. Stand up to them now, or lose the ability to ever do so.