UK Information Commissioner Says Wikileaks Means Governments Should Be More Open

from the well,-duh dept

This is a bit of a surprise. As many are claiming that the end result of Wikileaks will be that governments try to be even more secretive, the UK's information commissioner, Christopher Graham, is apparently urging governments to take a different lesson, and that it shows they should be a lot more open in the first place:
"We are strongly of the view that things should be published. Where you're open things will not be WikiLeaked. Whatever view you take about WikiLeaks -- right or wrong -- it means that things will now get out. It has changed things. I'm saying government and authorities need to factor it in. Be more proactive, [by] publishing more stuff, because quite a lot of this is only exciting because we didn't know it. You can't un-invent WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen ... these are facts that aren't going to go away. Government and authorities need to wise up to that."
He also suggests that becoming more secretive would be a mistake. Specifically, he calls it nonsense:
"One response is that they will clam up and not write anything down, which is nonsense, you can't run any organisation that way. The other is to be even more open. The best form of defence is transparency -- much more proactive publication of what organisations do. It's an attitude of 'OK. You want to know? Here it is'."
It would be nice if anyone listened to him, though I'm not convinced anyone in power actually will...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 6:56am

    I suspect the governments will become more verbose and insanely private at the same time. There will be much more "banter" stuff pushed out that will really be nothing more than a cover, hiding reality.

    I suspect that true secret documents will be better encoded, and in the long run, will require much more secure and tracable methods to access. It won't happen overnight, but I expect it to be the case.

    Manning showed there was holes, and those holes are rapidly being blocked, or filled with shite for the next one to get and make an ass out of themselves with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:17am

    Mumbo Jumbo

    Watch for a huge outpouring of "transparency." I fully expect it to be one of the largest misinformation campaigns of all time. The day-to-day minutiae and every detail which does not matter from hundreds of government agencies will (eventually) be made available to the public in real time.

    What's really going on in the government our [sarc]voluntary[/sarc] taxes are paying for, on the other hand, will be as obfuscated and hidden as ever--perhaps more than it ever was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    ignorant_s, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:28am

    Bottom line is such "transparency" is a necessary condition of a working democracy. Such disclosure allows the public to choose whom they wish to put in power or remove from power. Glad someone i an official position has the cajones to point out one of the many positive aspects of governmental accountibility.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:34am

    WikiLeaks is cool because, we already know that the governments work this way and are often offensive and disrespectful of their counterparts in other countries. Governments are aggressive and only work for the rich.

    Remember: The US revolutionary war was nothing but a bunch of white Guys who didn't want to pay taxes.
    Hear that Congress.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    Holly f'ing cow, finally someone get it!

    It is getting difficult to keep secrets and it is not just to governments everyone will have to learn to hide less.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Overcast (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 9:02am

    What's that they always say to us?

    "If you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide."

    Why does that always seem to get tossed at us, the people - yet government thinks it shouldn't apply to them.

    Does Government mean 'Hypocritical' in some language?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:15am

    "Does Government mean 'Hypocritical' in some language?"

    It does in English - the proof is all around us!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:21am


    Less, fantastic idea. Nothing, fantastically stupid idea. And that's all I'm going to say on the matter today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Mike C. (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Is it just me....

    ...or could you replace WikiLeaks with P2P in the first paragraph Mike posted and everything except the 2nd sentence would still apply?

    The line I liked best was "You can't un-invent WikiLeaks". I'd say the same applies for any technology out there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    drew (profile), Jan 6th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    Information Commissioners

    Actually our last information commissioner wasn't bad either. Sadly his office has no teeth so no-one really pays any attention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Ash Crill, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Position of Power

    Seeing as he is the UK Information Commissioner, he should use his power to down on publicly funded institutions that dodge and obfuscate when confronted with Freedom of Information requests. The University of East Anglia is a good example.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Fentex, Jan 6th, 2011 @ 5:22pm

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership already exists and the U.S is negotiating to join it.

    This is not a thing like ACTA that the U.S is trying to create, but undoubtably wants to join to influence.

    So far the U.S has been rebuffed because a core-principle of membership is removal of internal subsidies that undermine free trade, such as agricultural subsidies which the U.S isn't likely to dispense with soon.

    The reason TPP has strict rules is because it's objective is simple clear and concise (the removal of nearly all tariffs and barriers to free trade) and likely not suitable for the U.S. which will probably find it politically untenable to live up to.

    A country that cannot deliver is not wanted as it would dilute to worthless the purpose of membership.

    There are currently only four member states;Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore with some nine others negotiating to join.

    All members and applicants are APEC countries but TPP is not a APEC initiative.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Daniel J. Lavigne (profile), Jan 7th, 2011 @ 4:15am

    Truth, Transparency & Taxes

    When nations (Including the Supreme Courts of all such nations.) willfully fail to address, publicize, endorse and enforce the right and duty of ALL to refuse to support societies that are party to plans and preparations that are predicated on a will and capacity to commit mass murder via the use of nuclear and other weapons of mass murder, EVERY individual within any such society should immediately act as per that suggested by "The Tax Refusal".

    Add your voice to reason's call.

    Join the Tax Refusal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2011 @ 5:31am

    Re: Position of Power

    its very difficult to do anything when the data may not exist to release anymore however at least this is progress(ish)...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Daniel J. Lavigne, Jan 10th, 2011 @ 7:02am

    Re: Mumbo Jumbo

    Lobo Santo wrote: " What's really going on in the government our [sarc]voluntary[/sarc] taxes are paying for, on the other hand, will be as obfuscated and hidden as ever--perhaps more than it ever was. "

    This is entirely true, if one believes that they MUST, by law, support a society that has been and continues to be party to mass murder.

    I suggest that such power can be taken from them. Indeed . . .

    "The Nuremberg Principles" are an unequivocal statement of required action by all individuals; as first propounded by Associate Justice of America's Supreme Court, Robert Jackson, in his capacity / position as the Allies Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials: " A citizen not only has a right, but a duty to refuse to support his or her society when it is participating in a war of aggression, "A Crime Against Humanity. (Or words to similar effect.) He utilized that language to help secure the death penalty against many German and subsequently, via other such prosecutors, Japanese participants in the madness of the Second World War.

    Due such, ALL must agree that they have a right and a duty, at law, to REFUSE to support societies that are party to such madness.

    However, we face the reality that the vast majority, worldwide, lack the parts to say and do what MUST be said and done.

    Ergo, by default, we continue on the road to the TOTAL use of all nuclear and other weapons of mass murder as "Peak Oil" starts to meaningfully disrupt and threaten America's otherwise "Non-Negotiable Lifestyle". Alas.

    Looking Away

    Society's victims, aloof, askance
    Suffering the poison of indifference.
    Living in violent pinpoint balance,
    In subservience to political whores.

    Copyright February 21, 1988 Daniel J. Lavigne

    To read more, access:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Jan 10th, 2011 @ 6:44pm

    Berst Government Money Can Buy

    "It would be nice if anyone listened to him, though I'm not convinced anyone in power actually will..."

    It is refreshing to see TechDIRT and Mike get it right.

    It seem to me that our government has become increasingly beholden to big business. We do have the best government money can buy with transnational corporations doing most of the buying.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    President - - RJR at

    Other Affiliations:
    Executive Director - - RJR at
    Senior Fellow -
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2011 @ 2:05am

    Just because a politician says something, they don't have to mean it. We've had a lot of the Con-Dem government saying how they believe in "transparecy" and "fairness" yet what are they doing. They're not even trying to cover up how they are complete tossers. The Liberal Democrats saying "we are going to abolish student fees as they are not fair and then the second they get into power, "we're tripling the cap on student fees!" It turns out that even though everyone hated him, Gordon Brown got some very important things right like NOT switching to the euro. Everyone hated him for that but now we are leaving this recession (not because of anything the Conservatives have done mind you, except for maybe taking the credit for it). I have a funny feeling that generally occurs when a recently elected politician in one of the highest ranks in parliament and the government as a whole says I support this and brings out his party's unofficial motto. That feeling says "DESPERATE FOR SUPPORT BECAUSE IT'S ALL GOING TITS UP"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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