Internet privatization, WikiLeaks, and free expression

Daly, Angela (2014) Internet privatization, WikiLeaks, and free expression. International Journal of Communication Systems, 8, pp. 2693-2703.

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Abstract

In late 2010, the online nonprofit media organization WikiLeaks published classified documents detailing correspondence between the U.S. State Department and its diplomatic missions around the world, numbering around 250,000 cables. These diplomatic cables contained classified information with comments on world leaders, foreign states, and various international and domestic issues. Negative reactions to the publication of these cables came from both the U.S. political class (which was generally condemnatory of WikiLeaks, invoking national security concerns and the jeopardizing of U.S. interests abroad) and the corporate world, with various companies ceasing to continue to provide services to WikiLeaks despite no legal measure (e.g., a court injunction) forcing them to do so.

This article focuses on the legal remedies available to WikiLeaks against this corporate suppression of its speech in the U.S. and Europe since these are the two principle arenas in which the actors concerned are operating. The transatlantic legal protection of free expression will be considered, yet, as will be explained in greater detail, the legal conception of this constitutional and fundamental right comes from a time when the state posed the greater threat to freedom. As a result, it is not generally enforceable against private, non-state entities interfering with speech and expression which is the case here. Other areas of law, namely antitrust/competition, contract and tort will then be examined to determine whether WikiLeaks and its partners can attempt to enforce their right indirectly through these other means. Finally, there will be some concluding thoughts about the implications of the corporate response to the WikiLeaks embassy cables leak for freedom of expression online.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 95069
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: freedom of expression, WikiLeaks, Privatization of the Internet
ISSN: 1074-5351
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Deposited On: 20 Apr 2016 23:42
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2016 00:39

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