The Power To Control Information And Culture Itself

Wikileaks logoSeems Bank of America was so nervous about what Wikileaks would be revealing about them, that they went on the attack, and now we have some of the details about this, ironically thanks to both Wikileaks and a similar organization, Crowdleaks.

A very interesting anonymous post on this matter was made over at the Slashdot website:

Three information security consultancies with links to US spy agencies cooked up a dirty tricks campaign late last year to destroy Wikileaks by exploiting its perceived weaknesses, reads a presentation released by the whistleblowers’ (pdf) organization that it claimed to be from the conspirators. Consultants at US defense contractors Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and HBGary proposed to lawyers for a desperate Bank of America an alliance that would work to discredit the whistleblowers’ website using a divide and conquer approach. Since the plan was hatched, disgruntled volunteers mentioned in the PDF broke away from Wikileaks, financial institutions withdrew services, Apelbaum was harassed by the US Government and Amazon denied service to Wikileaks’ website.

I think this should be understood/considered in conjunction with three magnificent panel discussions/interviews conducted by REAL journalists with Julian Assange himself (another REAL journalist) available as a podcast on the “Big Ideas” program on ABC TV (not the American Broadcasting Company, which hasn’t engaged in real journalism for some time, but rather the Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

The podcasts in question are here (And I recommend listening to these in the order presented below too):

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/abc-big-ideas-tv/id376778455
Episode 11: Julian Assange: Wikileaks (Released 12/2/10)
Episode 2: Wikileaks: A Discussion (Released 2/9/11)
Episode 1: Assange Meets Ellsberg (Released 2/9/11)

Mr. Wikileaks explains why they built their distributed journalism model the way they did:

Assange: “We have developed an organization that from the ground up, is multi-national — from the ground up, we spreads assets around the world like multi-national [corporations] do to avoid tax, like multinationals do to avoid asset seizure….”

I utterly LOVE that he’s using the very model that corporations have used to evade their responsibilities, globalization, in order to force them to be responsible. That is so rich with irony, I hardly know what to do with it.

In fact, it reminds me of movie/music companies that refer to individuals who exercise their fair use rights to share information, movies, or music as “thieves”. The fact is, they do so less because those people actually are thieves, and more because those companies wish to reserve the right to “thievery/copying” all to themselves. As is exemplified by these wonderful videos:

http://www.everythingisaremix.info/?p=20
http://www.everythingisaremix.info/?p=58

So they can do that, but an independent producer can’t? And instead that artist gets what I like to call “The Sita Treatment”?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcvd5JZkUXY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXmy5cr_cV8
http://sitasingstheblues.com/

To quote the great Nina Paley:

What do religious fundamentalists and big media corporations have in common? They believe that they own culture…. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom.

Forced to pay crushing licensing fees, many artists are actually blocked from making new works, simply because some part of the new work is derivative. What is virtually never talked about is that these abuses of the concept of “information ownership” are actually serving to STOP new creative works from being born (not to mention blocking how many works re-enter the public domain, thanks to the DMCA). Often copyright-happy lawyers in fact are killing culture, and doing next to nothing to preserve artists rights, while in reality simply protecting parasitical mega-corporations that only exist thanks to artists who themselves refer to the culture at large.

And of course, these same corporate oligarchies think they own information itself too. Indeed, whether we’re talking about film, music or journalism, thanks to monopolistic corporate consolidation rubber-stamped by a compliant government, they ARE the same companies.

So the next time you hear a “mainstream” journalist/talking head in the well-healed, and perhaps too well-”connected” corporate media refer to either Julian Assange as a “terrorist”, or dismissively snear at “bloggers” as engaging in something less than journalism, remember that perhaps the characterization is less than accurate, and may indeed just be the product of jealousy and fear.

Relevant Links:
http://www.thetechherald.com/article.php/201106/6798/Data-intelligence-firms-proposed-a-systematic-attack-against-WikiLeaks
http://wikileaks.ch/IMG/pdf/WikiLeaks_Response_v6.pdf
http://www.securecomputing.net.au/News/247706,secret-plan-to-kill-wikileaks-with-fud-leaked.aspx
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Booz_Allen_Hamilton
http://crowdleaks.org/
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/05/creators-must-move-beyond-suing-audience
http://www.musicaeninternet.com/courtney-loves-speech/

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