Wikileaks reveals threats to cultural freedoms


There are more revelations than you can count in the now-infamous Wikileaks cables — a fact highlighted by the arrest and extradition attempts against Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.

But here’s another one that’s been buried, and it definitely hammers home the need to defend not just Wikileaks, but freedom of speech in general.

According to 35 of the documents that were released in the latest diplomatic spill, the US entertainment industry is actively seeking to influence — if not directly write — copyright law of other countries. Specifically mentioned is the copyright law in Spain that is being debated in that country right now.

Spain has previously had a rather lax attitude toward peer-to-peer file sharing, in contrast to the more cutthroat laws in the US that have lead to the bankruptcy of countless folks for the “crime” of downloading music and films.

The new law much more closely resembles those in the US. Wikileaks has shown that’s not an accident. In fact, the US embassy in Madrid actively put pressure on the Spanish government.

It even strong-armed officials to allow drafts of the law to be reviewed by executives and lobbyists of major entertainment companies — though which ones have not been made clear.

The malfeasance here is obvious. Spanish journalist Esperanza Hernandez declared that her own government “behaved in a way that was subservient in defending the interests of the United States to the detriment of the rights of Spanish citizens to access culture and knowledge through the Internet”.

By now it’s become apparent that the rabbit hole goes a lot deeper than this. If the US succeeds in getting their hands on Assange it could deal a deathblow to Wikileaks.

The reportage of war crimes, diplomatic trickery and the utterly shameful kowtowing of the world’s governments to corporate interests is something that people deserve to know, and that’s precisely why the US is up in arms about it.

Assange and Wikileaks are only the leading edge, however. If companies such as Google and the US’s largest internet service provider (ISP) Comcast have their way, then the entire Internet will most likely go the way of television.

The most viewed sites will become those that can afford it, with alternative sites buried beneath. The democratic free exchange of ideas will be eliminated from the web.

Comcast is the most compliant of ISPs with the record industry’s demand that they assist in cutting off “pirates” from service. If net neutrality becomes a thing of the past, then that job will also become a lot easier for that crowd.

So too will it be easier to bury “Born Free”, the most recent video from hip hop artist M.I.A (which was censored by YouTube), shut down some of the best hip-hop blogs without any notice or reason (as US attorney general Eric Holder did last year — including shutting down a site set up by British left-wing rapper Lowkey), or cut the live feed of a concert because AT&T doesn't like what Pearl Jam has to say (such as in 2007, when AT&T censored the webcast of a Pearl Jam show after the band attacked George Bush).

If they can silence Wikileaks, then they can silence any voice they feel like and twist it back into a way to make a bit more cash.

[Reprinted from .]