March 16, 2011
This is Sunshine Week: What Does WikiLeaks Mean to the Public Disclosure Process?
In a think piece written by Jennifer Lynch, an EFF staff attorney, the following question is asked is Sunshine Week: Do Open Government Laws Still Matter in the Era of WikiLeaks?:
With all of the information WikiLeaks has brought to light, many have asked what WikiLeaks means for national security and the way we protect (or can’t protect) information. But another question is what WikiLeaks means for those of us who work with open government laws every day – who try to work “within the system.”
Part of Lynch's answer (yes, this is a teaser for reading the entire post) is:
if you believe asymmetries of information are sometimes necessary (for example, in times of war, to keep information from our enemies) but that governments sometimes abuse those asymmetries, then you have to believe there needs to be room for whistleblowers and the FOIA process. Whistleblowers—individuals working within governments or private companies—can, by virtue of their position, bring evidence of waste and abuses to light that the general public would have no way of knowing about. But the FOIA process—because it's codified and because agencies know they will be required to release information under FOIA—keeps government honest and provides a way for anyone in the general public to ask for and obtain information on our government. Both of these are necessary, not just to increase transparency but to allow us to conduct the analysis and create the context necessary to ensure that the information brought to light actually makes a difference.
What do you think? For more about Sunshine Week, March 14-18, 2011, go here. [JH]