The Post-Cablegate Era Updated December 11, 2010, 02:15 PM
Ron Deibert is director of the Canada Center for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
The venomous furor surrounding WikiLeaks, including charges of “terrorism” and calls for the assassination of Julian Assange, has to rank as one of the biggest temper tantrums in recent years. Granted, it must be frustrating for U.S. government officials and others to see thousands of secret cables splashed across the globe. But stamping feet and lashing out at Assange is simply misdirected anger.
When Assange said that from now on geopolitics would be divided into pre- and post-Cablegate eras, he hit upon something important, but missed the bull’s-eye by overestimating his own organization’s impact on history.
We have indeed entered a new era, but not because of WikiLeaks, which is only a symptom of a much larger trend.As we discovered in ourTracking Ghostnet
andShadows in the Clouds
reports, the means to engage in cyber espionage have expanded dramatically because of the shift to networked infrastructures and social networking habits.
With Ghostnet, the confidential information of dozens of ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organizations and private firms was pilfered by the use of a free (and open source) Trojan horse. In the Shadows in the Clouds case, a likely single attacker vacuumed minutes of the Indian National Security Council secretariat as efficiently as making photocopies during the meeting itself. Cyberspace has brought us the world of do-it-yourself signals intelligence.
Many lament the loss of individual privacy as we leave digital traces that are then harvested and collated by large organizations with ever-increasing precision. But if individuals are subject to this new ecosystem, what would make anyone think governments or organizations are immune? Blaming WikiLeaks for this state of affairs is like blaming a tremor for tectonic plate shifts. (emphasis – carlos)