9 December 2010
The Obama administration is using the WikiLeaks scandal to undertake a vicious attack on the free Internet. The US could begin to resemble other nations who crack down on the Internet and personal freedoms. Policies ranging from licensing for websites to massive government surveillance of mobile devices and all computer systems may be on the way.
A group of activist hackers have begun attacking MasterCard.com, Amazon.com, PostFinace, Paypal.com and others in retaliation for cutting of the WikiLeaks organization.
The targeted companies, after receiving pressure from the US government, opted to sever their relationships with WikiLeaks, preventing the organization from hosting its site, halting the flow of donations and freezing the organization’s Swiss bank accounts.
The group of hackers is leaderless and operates anonymously. The groups has attacked organizations in the past, notable Scientology Church websites. In Twitter posts and other online statements, the hackers said they agree with WikiLeaks mission of opening up governments, exposing lies and support the freedom of the press and the Internet.
However, their online activism may have unintended consequences. Vague new regulations are being drafted by the Obama administration which would make it easier for the government to spy on Internet communications, including email, social media, general Web sites and mobile phones. Obama hopes to require all devices with online communications to be made with a built-in ability to comply with a wiretap order.
Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen argued the US is entering a point where the US Patriot Act may soon include digging through one’s Internet and mobile phone use, further impeding American Constitutional freedoms and an open Internet.
“You’ve got people like Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, who is chairman of the house Homeland Security Committee, calling for an investigation of the New York Times for publishing the WikiLeaks cables,” he said. “It’s too bad that in this country idiocy by our public officials is not a crime. Because, if it were Joe Lieberman would probably be doing 20 years to life in prison for it.”
The government agenda to regulate and crack down on the Internet has been in place since the Clinton administration, he explained. Targeting journalists and others is not an entirely new idea, even in America.
The leaked diplomatic cables lined up with much of the US agendas; nevertheless WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has now been branded an enemy.
“There is a report in a Lebanese newspaper that Assange earlier this year met with Israeli officials to make sure that nothing that would be damaging to Israel from these cables, particularly the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon and the later attack on Gaza, that none of those cables would be in his release,” Madsen said. “We see some games being played, games within games.”
He said the Obama administration is using this to undertake a vicious attack on the Internet and net neutrality.
“The Obama administration is actually worse than the previous Bush administration,” Madsen commented.
At the current rate, he argued, the US could begin to resemble other nations who crack down on the Internet and personal freedoms. Policies ranging from licensing for websites to massive government surveillance of mobile devices and all computer systems may be on the way.
“This is what we face,” Madsen said.