Wikileaks exposed people to greater risk: Clinton

Wikileaks exposed people to greater risk: Clinton

"Without commenting on the authenticity of any particular documents, we can observe that many of the cables released by WikiLeaks relate to human rights work carried on around the world," Clinton said in her speech on internet freedom at the George Washington University.

"Our diplomats closely collaborate with activists, journalists, and citizens to challenge the misdeeds of oppressive governments. It is dangerous work. By publishing diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks exposed people to even greater risk," she said. Noting that government confidentiality has been a topic of debate during the past few months because of WikiLeaks, she said but this been a false debate in many ways.

"Fundamentally, the WikiLeaks incident began with an act of theft. Government documents were stolen, just the same as if they had been smuggled out in a briefcase," she said. "Some have suggested that this theft was justified because governments have a responsibility to conduct all of our work out in the open in the full view of our citizens. I respectfully disagree," Clinton said.

The US Secretary of State said that America could neither have provided its citizens' security nor promote the cause of human rights and democracy around the world if it had to make public every step of its efforts.

"Confidential communication gives our government the opportunity to do work that could not be done otherwise. Consider our work with former Soviet states to secure loose nuclear material. By keeping the details confidential, we make it less likely that terrorists or criminals will find the nuclear material and steal it for their own purposes," Clinton argued.
Observing that confidentiality was essential especially in the internet age when dangerous information could be sent around the world with the click of a keystroke, she said "but of course, governments also have a duty to be transparent. We govern with the consent of the people, and that consent must be informed to be meaningful."
"We must be judicious about when we close off our work to the public, and we must review our standards frequently to make sure they are rigorous," she said.

"In the US, we have laws designed to ensure that the government makes its work open to the people, and the Obama Administration has also launched an unprecedented initiative to put government data online to encourage citizen participation and to generally increase the openness of government," Clinton said.

The US Government's ability to protect America, to secure the liberties of our people, and to support the rights and freedoms of others around the world depends on maintaining a balance between what’s public and what should and must remain out of the public domain, she said.

"The scale should and will always be tipped in favour of openness, but tipping the scale over completely serves no one's interests," she asserted. "I said that the WikiLeaks incident began with a theft, just as if it had been executed by smuggling papers in a briefcase. The fact that WikiLeaks used the internet is not the reason we criticized its actions. WikiLeaks does not challenge our commitment to internet freedom," she said.

Clinton denied that the US Government ever intervened to coerce private companies to deny service to WikiLeaks. That is not the case, she said.

"Now, some politicians and pundits publicly called for companies to disassociate from WikiLeaks, while others criticized them for doing so. Public officials are part of our country's public debates, but there is a line between expressing views and coercing conduct. Business decisions that private companies may have taken to enforce their own values or policies regarding WikiLeaks were not at the direction of the Obama Administration," Clinton said.