Q&A: WikiLeaks and the Future of Whistleblowing

The disclosure of 76,000 reports on the war in Afghanistan by WikiLeaks has set off a round of damage control by the White House. But what does the release mean for citizen journalism online, and how does technology play into such leaks?

Digits spoke with Jonathan Zittrain, a law and computer science professor at Harvard and one of the founders of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, about technology’s role in facilitating the release of information. Highlights of his responses are below.

How does technology help the distribution of this type of information?
I think technology in general facilitates the flow of information from one place to the other. It’s pretty amazing that you have thousands of classified documents released at once, and the government seems implicitly aware that they can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

The technology structure being used here is not very advanced; it’s very Web 1.0. The fact that it can be mirrored and remirrored makes a difference. But to actually get something out without being traced is still difficult.

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