Radio Berkman 182: Fear of a Networked Fourth Estate

April 29th, 2011

Listen: or download | …also in Ogg

“Wikileaks” has become something of a neverending story. Coverage has branched out beyond the revelations of the documents allegedly leaked by Pfc. Bradley Manning in 2010, and on to ancillary territory: the flamboyant presence of founder Julian Assange; the legal propriety of Wikileaks’ actions; and the harsh treatment of Manning as a military detainee.

These last two areas have garnered the attention of today’s guest. Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler recently co-authored a joint letter condemning the abuse of Bradley Manning that has since been signed by 295 scholars in the legal realm.

He has also spoken out against efforts by government and private entities to stifle Wikileaks. While some have argued that facilitating the release of classified documents is unprecedented and perhaps illegal, Benkler has insisted that Wikileaks’ behavior is not only entirely constitutional, but also not exceptional.

Moreover, he says, the private and governmental response to Wikileaks demonstrates an interesting insight into how networks do battle in the digital age. We sat down with Benkler this week to hear why.

Listen up! Comment on the show! Tweet us! And check out the reference section after the jump for links to our guests and more.

Reference Section:
Read Bruce Ackerman and Yochai Benkler’s joint letter on Manning’s treatment cosigned by 295 members of the legal academic community
Benkler’s recent paper A Free Irresponsible Press: Wikileaks and the Battle Over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate
Listen to Jonathan Zittrain & Larry Lessig talk about Wikileaks and the information wars
Questions for Secretary Clinton concerning “Internet freedom”
Berkman Center’s Citizen Media Law Project and Cyberlaw Clinic Challenge Injunctions Against Wikileaks and Dynadot

Creative Commons music courtesy of Morgantj, Learning Music Monthly, and Ghost.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sarah Schroth  |  August 20th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Sadly I’ve found no time to follow this interview, so your reference section on that matter comes in pretty handy. Thanks for that!

    As always (and that’s the exciting side of legal issues, ain’t it?) it’s not simply a matter of the first amendment (for instance abridging the freedom of speech) or legality in general, it all comes down to the question of ethics. One can praise the values of transparency, but the disclosure of classified information may put lifes at stake, short or longrun (may this even only refer to 0.01% of the confidential data that got released) and that’s just inacceptable (don’t want to use the word illegal here). Just my 2 cents, but I can’t support Yochai Benklers opinion in that matter – let’s leave the true intentions of the government/private tech organizations aside.

    What always amuses me: when it comes to discussions, why Wikileaks is treasonous and has to be stifled, while they’re outside the US jurisdiction. Furthermore Assange and his teams are not Americans, so they should be tried for treason, not being US citizens at all? Interesting approach. But ok, despite that both sides have valid arguments and I can understand everyone that argues pro or contra Wikileaks. Well, to sum up and make it short (too late, hm?): I’m not a big fan of Wikileaks data dump and the underlying argument, that only transparency without borders secures our freedom. That’s dangerous and thoroughly naive..freedom without borders is no freedom.
    So far, Sarah

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