Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Is Julian Assange damaging the Internet?

By Mal Fletcher - posted Monday, 27 August 2012

There is doubtless an important and wide-ranging debate to be had about the relationship between governance and transparency in the age of almost ubiquitous digital media.

Liberal democracies, for example, while preaching transparency struggle more than ever in the digital age to balance public accountability with diplomatic discretion.

However, such a debate, whenever it takes place, must not be allowed to centre around the interests of specific individuals.


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, tweeted from the stage at the opening of London's Olympics: 'This is for everyone'. He referred to the Games, of course, but this was also a nod to the medium he popularized.

This, it appears, may not have occurred to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and self-proclaimed activist for internet freedoms. He seems perfectly happy to have debates about internet freedoms centre around his personal interests, agenda and somewhat erratic behaviour.

In the process, he poses a potential threat, at least where some governments are concerned, to the very medium he uses to promote his brand of reform.

There are governments aplenty who worry about the growth and pervasiveness of the internet. Some of them would like nothing more than to curb or control its power.

The OpenNet Initiative is an alliance of academic and consultancy bodies set up to investigate internet filtering and surveillance powers worldwide. In 2010 it documented Internet filtering by governments in over 40 countries worldwide.

The Initiative ranks Iran's as the worst government when it comes to using pervasive filters to block online political and social content and personal communications tools.


In China, a police service devoted to filtering the web reportedly consists of at least 30,000 officers.

In July, the Russian parliament introduced bills that create a blacklist of websites deemed unsuitable. The bills, which will become law in November, demand that servers to take these sites down.

In the beginning, the Russian laws will deal mainly with sites carrying images of child abuse and other overtly illegal material. However, dissidents fear that the legislation will soon extend to ban or curtail political criticism.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

6 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Mal Fletcher

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 6 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy