Wikileaks and the effect of a totally free press on industry relations

Technical PR, Engineering PR, Stone JunctionMany of you will have heard on the news about the Afgan War Diary and its release to the public. What you may not have heard is the name of the organisation that effected the leak. Wikileaks.com is a service that deals entirely in leaking sensitive or classified information to press corps the world over, following a mantra of principled leaking.

This site, or others like it, could potentially be a problem for PR, advertising and marketing companies the world over. As more and more information becomes readily available, it becomes ever harder to give a good representation of a company to the public and to other companies. The question here is; is this policy of principled leaking a good or bad thing for industry and governments the world over?

Wikieaks certainly makes a compelling case for the positive side of the service, stating that “WikiLeaks is the strongest way we have of generating the true democracy and good governance on which all mankind's dreams depend.”

While this is certainly a good thing, we must also consider who exactly is doing this principled leaking, and whether giving control of the release of such sensitive material to a non-governmental organisation is actually a good thing. Although the word principled would suggest a non-prejudiced approach, one must wonder whether there is actually any way of telling whether a writer or staff’s own prejudices have any effect on what is released.

The question of the consequences of such freely available information is also a sharp one. One search on the site leads to a list of all of the alleged BNP member’s home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and links to the party.

While some would say that this exposure of prejudice is a good thing, you have to wonder whether, in exposing these people, wikileaks has precipitated acts of discrimination and harassment equal to, or greater than some of the members themselves may have perpetrated.
In the end it comes down to how free each individual wants the press to be. Certainly the claims made by the site to have swayed Kenyan votes by 10% in favour of a more democratic system seem positive. But if the same site is potentially providing fuel for hate groups to use against possibly blameless people then a line may have to be drawn somewhere. Or, is the very point that WikiLeaks is beyond any line we can draw as individuals or as Governments?

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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