On WikiLeaks: What’s More Important – National Security or Government Transparency?
Americans feel that WikiLeaks could have a harmful effect on United States’ diplomacy and security, but are torn over whether documents released by the whistle-blowing organization should remain classified. That was the conclusion of an online survey of 350 adults who are familiar with WikiLeaks conducted by market research firm Lab42, on the public’s perception regarding WikiLeaks.
According to the survey, approximately 41% of respondents claimed to have actually visited the WikiLeaks website, while 19% answered that they visited a mirror of the website. Nearly 40% of respondents who were familiar with WikiLeaks had never even visited the website. Based on these numbers, it appears that more than half of people who are familiar with WikiLeaks do not actually visit the site due to its highly controversial or sensitive nature.
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The Age Factor
WikiLeaks website traffic differed by age. Younger respondents — those between 26-35 years old — were more likely to have visited the website. Only 28% of respondents in this age group claimed that they did not visit the website, whereas over 50% of respondents ages 46-65 years old said they had not visited WikiLeaks.
Fear of Backlash from WikiLeaks
When asked whether they think WikiLeaks will have a damaging effect on United States diplomatic relations, nearly 45% of respondents answered a definitive ‘Yes,’ while only 19% answered a definitive ‘No.’ Age was a significant factor. About 40% of respondents ages 18-55 thought WikiLeaks would negatively affect US international relations. Older survey takers seemed much more worried about the implications of WikiLeaks. Nearly 89% of respondents ages 56-65 felt that WikiLeaks would have a damaging diplomatic effect.
Feelings towards WikiLeaks
When asked which statement best described their feelings towards WikiLeaks, nearly 40% of respondents answered that ‘Some information should remain classified.’ On the contrary, 28% of respondents claimed that ‘Information should be available and not hidden from the public.’ 18% of respondents agreed that WikiLeaks threatens our National Security. These results reflect a popular belief about WikiLeaks, that public safety should take precedence when it comes to releasing classified information to the public.
One respondent summed up typical American sentiment by stating, “Obama promised us an open government and only through WikiLeaks has he in anyway kept that promise, but some things shouldn’t be disclosed like information that might directly endanger lives.”
According to Sam Curry of RSA, The Security Division of EMC, Wikileaks is the buzzword of the moment. “Why is it such a hot topic? Well, it involves intrigue and spies and cloak and dagger tactics, it involves secrets, technology, politics and people – all at a time when we are afraid of change, terrorism, identity, economics, the list goes on,” Curry writes. “In a world where information appears to be pouring out of organizations, the issue of actually securing it all looms dauntingly. The Wikileaks logo itself is a rather ominously dripping globe. And why now? What’s really going on here? Where is it going and how do we deal with this phenomenon?” Read Sam’s thoughts on WikiLeaks here.