My latest piece is up at Pajamas Media and in it, I ask the question: is too much openness and transparency a good thing?
I would imagine most of those reading this article treasure the idea that the internet is one of the last bastions of almost total freedom on earth — a place where anything and everything goes, where the sublimely beautiful rubs elbows with the most profoundly depraved, and where radiance and raunch can occupy the same space, at the same time, thus defying the physical laws of the universe.
It is the the last outpost in the Wild West complete with gunslingers, banditos, highwaymen, and the occasional offended aboriginal. All of this freedom and openness comes at a huge cost, however: we, the meek and mild-mannered townsfolk, have yet to get around to appointing a sheriff in a white hat to protect us from the likes of Mr. Assange and his merry band of nihilistic knaves .
At the moment, the bad guys seem mostly interested in knocking off the rich ranchers and cattle barons who can afford to hire armies to protect them. Tweaking the tail of the lion by dumping diplomatic cables on to the internet or publishing the cell phone numbers of politicians and bureaucrats is serious mischief-making but doesn’t threaten our privacy or well being directly.
What about 10 years from now? Can the concept of “openness” and “transparency” be taken too far? Suppose an Assange-like messiah arises who declares that personal assets, bank accounts, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, tax returns and other very personal information have no business being hidden from view; that privacy itself is an authoritarian construct; and that everybody should know everything about everyone else. Only then can we all be truly “equal.”