WikiLeaks under fire: Is it electronic civil disobedience?

Miquel Comas Oliver


This paper evaluates the usefulness of the civil disobedience theory to legitimate the e-leaking of secrets, i.e. ethical and electronic disclosure of confidential information. First, the main definitions of offline civil disobedience are reviewed. Liberalism established the dominant set of validity conditions: symbolic, peaceful, responsible, public, constitutionally loyal, etc. We criticize this standpoint thanks to the discursive approach, but also highlighting its prejudices. Second, we analyse whether WikiLeaks meets those classical requirements. Encrypted anonymity, partial decriminalization and limited irresponsibility become acceptable. Regarding publicity, the disobedient visualization of a political conflict can be satisfied without revealing the identity of its participants.

Palabras clave

WikiLeaks; electronic civil disobedience; deliberative democracy; whistleblowing; anonymity

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