Monthly Archives: June 2013

WikiLeaks & Edward Snowden

WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website dedicated to uncovering and publishing secret information and news leaks for the sake of providing the public with the truth, is not alone in its fight. Edward Snowden, who until last month was a relatively unknown figure, has been thrust into the limelight following his exposure of United States surveillance secrets.

The former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) justified his actions by saying that he “can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building” (Greenwald, MacAskill, & Poitras, 2013).

His actions largely mirror that of WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange has been pursued and is currently seeking asylum in Ecuador. Both men have been painted by governments as villains, but many media outlets have done otherwise, portraying them as champions of freedom. What’s more, a majority of people commenting on the Internet have also praised them for forcing transparency in governments and removing coverups.

It is then not surprising that in latest developments, WikiLeaks is seen to be offering assistance to Snowden, who fled US to avoid arrest. WikiLeaks has “brokered an offer of political asylum in Ecuador for United States intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden” and that “WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange this morning welcomed Ecuador’s decision to assist Mr Snowden” (Dorling, 2013). Assange also expressed “great personal sympathy” for Snowden.

While it remains to be seen what will eventually happen to Snowden, his actions have proved that certain governments, even one as powerful as the United States, are guilty of committing unethical acts against others.

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References

Dorling. (2013). Assange pushes Snowden bid for Ecuador asylum  Retrieved 24 June 2013, from http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/security-it/assange-pushes-snowden-bid-for-ecuador-asylum-20130624-2or96.html

Greenwald, G., MacAskill, E., & Poitras, L. (2013). Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations  Retrieved 24 June 2013, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance?guni=Network%20front:network-front%20aux-1%20mini-bento:Bento%20box%208%20col:Position1:sublinks

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Media Regulations & How Social Media Could Help

Just last week, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) came up with a set of regulations stating that “news sites that report regularly on Singapore and have significant reach will be required to follow the same regulatory framework as traditional media” (Chiu, 2013). Websites such as Yahoo! News will have to obtain an individual license similar to those that traditional media have. The implications of this license is that “online news sites are expected to comply within 24 hours to MDA’s directions to remove content that is found to be in breach of content standards” (Chiu, 2013).

The new regulations were met with criticism and were claimed to be put in place so that the government can control the content of news that is not under Singapore’s main media organisations Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings. Unlike these two media groups, Yahoo! News has had a penchant for putting up objective news that were not always in favour of the Singapore government. To put things in perspective, the mainstream media in Singapore does not rank highly in terms of press freedom. For 2013, Singapore is ranked 149 out of 179 countries in terms of press freedom, a drop of 14 places compared to the previous year (“Press Freedom Index 2013”, 2013).

This is a real challenge for objective news reporting in Singapore, as third party websites will most likely be faced with licensing issues should their content be deemed questionable. Perhaps social media can help to mitigate this problem. It’s all too easy to create a social media account on say, Facebook, and have people following the activities of the said account. It may even be tougher for MDA to impose its regulations on social media. Of course, the onus is on the account owners to walk a fine line; that is to produce news that is objective and not defamatory, or they might risk getting into trouble with the law.

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References

Chiu, P. (2013). 10 online news sites must follow traditional media regulations: MDA  Retrieved 30 May 2013, from http://sg.news.yahoo.com/10-online-news-sites-must-follow-traditional-media-regulations–mda-103906167.html

Press Freedom Index 2013. (2013)  Retrieved 30 May 2013, from https://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

 

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