Though some historian viewers may be bringing out the torches and pitch forks for this blasphemous statement, we need to ignore the hype for a minute and think about what we are talking about.
The Magna Carta was an English document written in the early 13th century. There have been countless documents created throughout history, but this one stands out from the rest because it was brought into law and stripped the English Monarchy of much of its power. It was a crucial document that changed the English power structure forever.
The Magna Carta was also an agreement that was signed under such duress that not even the most liberal of Western Courts would ever hear it inside a courtroom. I won’t even get into the discussion on whether or not the average person really benefitted from changing decisive power from whimsical Kings to a group of revolting Barons. Whatever side of the fence you sit, the Magna Carta represented an idea, a new perspective, and a change in power. Those ideas would eventually form individual rights and parliament.
In contrast, WikiLeaks is a website that launched in the early 21st century. What sets this site out from all of the rest is that it has the potential to strip world governments of their secrets, information, and power over their subjects. Average people are suddenly able to challenge government propaganda by leaking out the original facts. If knowledge is power, the governments of the world have unwittingly surrendered their power to the people via the Internet. The poster child of this shift in power is WikiLeaks front man, Julian Assange.
Ironically, nobody really knows what Julian even does for WikiLeaks aside from evading governments and acting as spokesman. The power and influence isn’t from anything that WikiLeaks has done, it comes from the ideas enabled by the Internet. The scandalous content comes from the people that have access to sensitive documents and feel that governments and big businesses are misusing the information and their power. WikiLeaks just provides a place for these escaped packets of information to seek refuge.
I am a believer that not every piece of information should be released. There are certainly times when an idea seems good in the beginning only to find out how horrible the consequences would be; if released out of context to the public, this could result in witch hunts and other bad outcomes. However, I cannot get past the number of times that the “powers that be” have said, “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then why be afraid of us having a look at what you are doing?” Now that the public is getting a peek into what they are doing, it is an international threat!
Whatever history says about the Internet, WikiLeaks, or Julian Assange, it seems clear that the World’s Governments have to face another major shift in power and rights because of an information revolt. The resistance to this change is getting uglier all the time. I have even mused that Julian could change his name to Moriarty with all the credit the media has poured over him.
The change is here. Could it be Magna Carta 2.0?