Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stella Says…Whistle blowers welcomed and protected

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 19 August 2007)

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill presented for approval by Raphael Trotman is still hanging in limbo despite numerous calls for the enactment of such legislation from all parts of Guyanese society. However, it seems innovation has found a way around any governments’ stalling shenanigans and will no doubt be to the benefit of all free (and not-so-free) people.

Wikipedia is an online source of information that has made a sound impact on modern culture. Anyone in the world can contribute or edit entries on any subject; thereby creating the healthiest encyclopaedia that has ever existed.

Now these remarkably inventive Wiki people have gone one step further and created a new site specifically designed for those who have valuable information to share about their governments and corporations. The site is called Wikileaks ( Oh baby, is this going to be so much fun.

Here is what Wikileaks has to say about its brilliant idea, “Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations.”

It continues, “We aim for maximum political impact. Our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by all types of people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.”

The value of such a site is beyond measure to a country like Guyana that has a government that refuses to be forthcoming concerning its actions or to pass legislation to allow for the openness of information to the people. Just imagine the implications of a site like this.

This site provides an avenue for the anonymous, untraceable leaking of documents without censor, which means that anyone who has been sitting on information about their government and just waiting for a chance to let the world know about it without paying a stiff price for being a dissident can come forward now without fear of reprisal.

I can hear the angels in heaven singing, “hallelujah!” Governments worldwide will be held accountable to the people for their actions – like it or not. Wikileaks claims to have received over 1.2 million documents so far. If ever there has been a mechanism for keeping our governments honest, this far surpasses all else.

That is not to say that the proposed FOI bill should not be passed and enacted, as it is only proper for the people of any free country to have full knowledge of their government’s actions. There is no reason the people of Guyana should rely on leaks to attain the information they rightfully deserve from their representatives.
Still, as we have seen, some governments do not wish to be so forthcoming with information. This is where a site like Wikileaks will prove invaluable to the openness of information.

Here is how the makers of Wikileaks see the site, “Wikileaks looks like Wikipedia. Anybody can post to it, anybody can edit it. No technical knowledge is required. Whistleblowers can post documents anonymously and untraceably. Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity. Users can discuss the latest material, read and write explanatory articles on leaks along with background material and context. The political relevance of documents and their veracity will be revealed by a cast of thousands.”

The dissemination and analysis of documents posted on Wikileaks about Guyana will be the dream of every journalist from this nation who has been lowered to the position of information peddler for the government. It will also be the nightmare of every corrupt public servant.

I can see it now - the price tags of those mansions owned by government officials will become public knowledge, backroom deals will be brought to light and even information from the bygone days will be revealed. I simply love it when justice wins and corruption is exposed.

Wikileaks encourages those who have been bought or intimidated into silence to let the entire world know the truth. Whistleblowers have stood up for justice even when doing so risked retribution – or at times death. This new site shoves the injustice bully back and protects the whistleblower.

As mentioned on this site, there are many governments who rely on concealing reality from their people and sufficient leaking will bring these administrations down. While there will no doubt be several governments scrambling around to cover their corruption and to enact campaigns about how whistle blowing is unpatriotic, I expect this site will see the dawn of a whole new political world.

Moreover, Wikileaks also supports corporate whistle blowers. The site says, “A corrupt or unethical corporation is a menace to all inside and outside it.”

It seems Wikileaks is still tweaking itself to sustain the vast number of entries it is receiving and will continue to receive. However, the site expects to be up and running fully within the next few months. There is yet to be a link created for Guyana entries. Let’s hope this is remedied quickly.

Slippery politicians, be warned. Your days are numbered.

Email: StellaSays[at]

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