The United States presidential race has tightened up once again, and it will likely stay a close race until the end. The candidates’ performance in the last few weeks of the campaign will be crucial to their success—but there is one man who may have the power to decide the whole thing for himself. Julian Assange—who is currently pent up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London avoiding criminal charges of sexual assault and rape in Sweden—is the notorious hacker and founder of the media organization WikiLeaks. Founded in 2006, WikiLeaks has since revealed massive amounts of government documents and secrets never intended for public knowledge. The organization infamously released information about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and thousands of documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Most recently, the organization released thousands of emails from employees of the Democratic National Committee. These emails contained evidence of collusion with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Assange claims that WikiLeaks contains even more damning emails about the Clinton campaign, something that could potentially change the course of the entire election.
This release of private information is harmful to our political society. Regardless of political affiliation, a foreign hacking organization meddling in a U.S. presidential election is a disturbing occurrence. Combine that with recent rumors that Russian hackers—possibly working for the Russian government—were behind the hacking of DNC servers and the plausibility of a tampered election becomes even more frightening.
WikiLeaks and other similar organizations do serve an important role by providing certain checks on the power of governments and corporations that often hide information from the public. In a hyper-connected world, governments have the power to monitor anyone and hide almost anything from the public’s eye. There must be major government oversight to ensure that important information is not withheld. As our government fails to conduct this rigorous oversight upon itself, WikiLeaks and other organizations help inform the public.
This oversight, however, comes at a cost. WikiLeaks is far from a perfect organization. Time after time, they release highly sensitive documents that put national security at risk with no apparent benefit to the public.
Edward Snowden—the infamous National Security Agency whistleblower currently in exile in Moscow—tweeted in July, “Democratizing information has never been more vital, and WikiLeaks has helped. But the hostility to even modest curation is a mistake.” Mass releases of information to the public with little attention paid to legitimate privacy and security concerns is a dangerous, misguided way of informing the public.
WikiLeaks seems to be causing more harm than good with its intervention in the U.S. presidential election. While organizations like it are important when exposing cases of corruption and cover-ups, they have become reckless and politically motivated in their dissemination of this information. It’s imperative that we condemn these actions from WikiLeaks in its attempts to undermine the American political system.u