Did Library Of Congress Lie? White House Says No Requirement To Block Wikileaks

from the the-law-is-the-law? dept

On Friday, we wrote about how the Library of Congress, in an act of pure denial, had blocked Wikileaks, saying that it was required by law to block access to the site. As we noted at the time, this seemed silly, since the documents were widely available all over the internet and press reports were covering most of the details anyway. We got a few folks in the comments to respond with statements along the lines of "the law is the law, they have to block it." Of course, that misses the point. Even if there was such a law, the only way to "block" such information is to shut off the internet entirely, which is pretty pointless. However, a few folks also responded by asking what law, and the answer might be none.

In an article about how different parts of the government have been warning government workers that these documents are still considered classified and to treat them accordingly, the White House officially stated that it is not advising government agencies to block Wikileaks. In other words, it sounds like someone at the Library of Congress is overreacting -- interpreting rules about dealing with classified documents to mean that it needs to block access to the website, when that doesn't appear to be the case.

Either way, the whole thing is pretty silly. It's about time the government stops using a reality-denying definition of "classified" documents. In the business world, something is no longer considered a trade secret once it's out there. If the government wants to respond to actual conditions out in the world, it should do the same. If a classified document is leaked like this, it's downright silly to still consider it classified or confidential. Just admit that it's now public info and move on.

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  1. icon
    ignorant_s (profile), 6 Dec 2010 @ 12:29pm

    Law and order

    The government is promoting order, because they fear chaos and lack of control. They are setting an example of Assange so people think twice before they release "sensitive" information to the general public. The Library of Congress is simply stepping in line with the government's plan of (re)action to this crisis of control. I am sure they are fully aware that their "blocking" access, will have little practical effect.

    Despite all the fear mongoring, perhaps this shall serve to reinforce principles of free speech in the US, rather than erode them.

    On a pratical level, should we expect anything less from our government than to try to regain control and some level of secrecy? If the US to simply "be cool" with the release of sensitive information, well then, EVERYBODY would be doing it.

    No. They have to take a stand, and they'll figure out the constitutional questions later.

    Remember, free speech does have limitations, and the US is wise to attempt to enforce such limits, for the sake of order and keeping people's faith in the government.

    But laws are truly only as strong as the people who choose to follow them. Those who enforce the laws are much less by sheer number than those who choose to exist within the system of law and order. What is there to fear? The power shall always lie with the people.

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