You can't just steal documents from governments and publish them without any consequences.
If your government is doing something bad, then it should be dealt with legally, and via the established checks and balances. Newspapers shouldn't be above the law.
Just think about your proposition for even ten seconds.
You're suggesting that the entire government is corrupt, and covering up 'something bad'?
There are endless systems of checks, balances, and disclosure within our government.
Sorry, I don't buy the conspiracy theories, endless theoretical debates about what the government "could" do with data it has. It's moot.
In the absence of leaks and whistleblowing, how do you propose that this kind of power be reined in?
Citizens have the right to know what the laws of their country are, if the government believes it has the right to snoop your phones calls then it must submit a request to change the law to parliament.
What's your reasoning here beyond "but the laaaaaaw"?
Do you even have any moral reasoning backing that?
Maybe your last few tax returns. May as well publish those as well!
How about state secrets on any weak parts of military defences?
Yes I have moral reasoning. It's stolen information.
For your first two examples (my medical records and tax records), that is personal information which is limited utility to others. By contrast, the state "secrets" here directly impact the day-to-day lives of thousands if not millions.
Your third example is exactly something that would be beneficial to know--any enemy presumably already knows about it, and keeping it secret from the public at large only serves to allow the people who should be working on it to function without oversight.
As for the actual information being leaked: that is not personal information; a good chunk of it is operations details for state security apparatus, and that's exactly something that I, a citizen, would prefer to know about.
With such great resources at its disposal and so much power at its beck and call, we simply cannot afford to allow the government any secrecy or opacity in its functioning. To do otherwise is to encourage the sorts of corruption and corrosion that turn a state into a horrendous place to live.
I agree, but I see why others do not - but I ask you, how would we have the debate without the leaks and without the defence? If there is a way, please tell me.
Well, you're free to believe that the right not to have one's information copied trumps any other concern. How are you feeling about your information being illegally copied by your own government, and freely shared with other security apparatuses?
The fourth estate is part of the established checks and balances you mention, in fact it's the most important and independent part.
(not that they are in any real way on trial mind, they got to vet and prepare for every question before hand.)
I appreciate the courage it takes to make an unpopular comment. That said, given your interpretation of HN (however accurate) you might express a little caution in calling for the censorship of a newspaper reporting extraordinary information.
This is not about censorship. Newspapers can say what the hell they want. Unless they obtained that information via illegal means - which The Guardian did.
They are absolutely the same as the phone hacking papers.
No, they are not.
Voicemail hacking - journalists directly hired and instructed investigators to hack voicemail of celebrities and murder victims in order to print salacious stories and earn money, they also paid off police and other public servants to obtain information. They did this to sell newspapers (and for that reason alone) - no other defence could be given for their actions.
Snowden's disclosures - journalists received a story and documents to back it up from Snowden, they did not solicit and pay for the information, and published only those stories which they felt were in the public interest. They informed the public of a major scandal, and potentially illegal actions on the part of the authorities (actions which the spies tried to have legalised retrospectively).
That's the job of the fourth estate - holding the government accountable, keeping them honest, and informing the public. That's why we have a public interest defence (at least in the UK), or a 1st amendment (in the US).
Now you might argue that Snowden broke the law, I'd absolutely agree he did, but some laws are bad laws, and sometimes to fight an unjust system you must break the law - examples from history are legion of people fighting unjust laws who in retrospect are seen as heroes - I suspect Snowden will be amongst them, but arguing over the legality of his actions is a distraction from the to me more important questions of a free press and how we can restrain a government which aspires to know everything about every one of us.
Under these kinds of conditions, if someone in an appropriate branch of government wants to nail you for any reason, they can. Especially now that widespread spying makes it much easier to identify specific transgressions.
So I am not so sure why you would take such a hard line on legality when in fact such a stance is just waiting to come back and bite you (and everyone).
... In fact, now it is the government's position that there are SECRET LAWS that you can be violating but not even know why you are violating them; they can arrest you and not tell you exactly why they arrested you, because the reason is secret. How are you supposed to engage in strictly legal behavior when you don't even know what is legal and what is illegal?
The only secret "laws" that I've seen come out of the whole Snowden affair were FISC opinions dictating how the NSA can and cannot act with regards to existing public laws.
I'd draw the line:
You can steal documents and publish them, if they reveal that the government has acted against the laws, or unconstitutionally.
Basically if you're breaking the law to reveal that someone else has broken the law in order of magnitude worse way, then it's ok.
The guardian just loves anti-government stories, bashing anyone in power.
Look at the "expenses scandal". The Guardian was all over it! Publishing pointless details of how an MP claimed £5 for a taxi to a restaurant.
The inquiry into the "expenses scandal" cost more to the tax payer than the entire amount of expenses given to MPs! What the hell was the point of that then?!
It would be good if people recognised how biased The Guardian is. It has an agenda, and searches out the stories which will further it.
And you're going to just believe the claim? Come on. Actually, if all that was fully legal, that is IMHO more shocking.
> It would be good if people recognised how biased The Guardian is. It has an agenda
And yet you can't see GCHQ' self-serving agenda. I see that you "trust your government to do the right thing". The right thing for who, them or you? Why do you trust them and not other parties?
> The inquiry into the "expenses scandal" ... What the hell was the point of that
And you don't see the point of uncovering corruption in elected officials either? Perhaps you don't want your trust undermined? Nice selective use of logic there!
Either the leak is justified or it's not. Either way the press is not responsible.
If the leak is not justified then the blame lies with the leaker and the organisation that the info was leaked from. If private companies poorly secure customer info they often get fined, but there seems to be no comeback when the leak involves a government.