WikiLeaks and 21st-Century Democracy: An Ethical Analysis
University of Idaho Seed Grant
WikiLeaks, the self-described "media organization" that since 2007 has publicly revealed well over a million classified documents, poses a variety of challenges to present-day democratic states. While the most straightforward of these challenges are political and legal, WikiLeaks also raises a host of issues for the ethical approaches that underlie and guide contemporary democracies. These issues can be framed using the language of rights and justice: does WikiLeaks have an ethical right to do what it does, and is it ethically just for states to attempt to stop WikiLeaks? The goal of this project is to answer these questions by gaining a clear understanding of the ethical legitimacy, if there is any, of WikiLeaks and its activities. This goal will be achieved through a comparative ethical analysis, and the immediate result of this analysis will be a journal article. The need here is pressing: legislatures and courts across the world are already dealing with the legal analogues to the questions above. To the extent that good laws are guided by good ethics, it is the hope that this analysis will provide ethical insight into the legal rights that organizations like WikiLeaks should and should not be granted by future law.