What is it precisely that the ideologues of the great information revolution are arguing? That no one has a right to confidentiality in any sphere of public life – apart from WikiLeaks’ staff, of course, and their internet comrades in the Anonymous network who wreak vengeance on any website that threatens WikiLeaks’ power? What about the lawyer-client relationship, which has privileged confidentiality in the eyes of the law? It might be of considerable public interest to see the correspondence between defendants and their lawyers in terrorist trials, for example. Would WikiLeaks publish such material if it got its hands on it? For that matter, would it be willing, as a matter of public interest, to publish all the communications between Julian Assange and his lawyer?
Finally, is the power of the disseminated word so very novel? The state has not been “in control” of information for hundreds of years, probably not since Gutenberg invented the printing press and produced his Bible, which helped make the Protestant Reformation possible. The 18th-century pamphleteers who inspired the French and American revolutions, the 19th-century manifestos that motivated the modern ideological movements, and the samizdat publications under the Soviet Union all managed to cry freedom in their own ways and to spread their messages to huge effect. What is available now is the technology to make that dissemination instantaneous. Perhaps that also helps to make it mindless.