TED Conversations

Chris Ke-Sihai

Speculative Thinker, TEDxMonga


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Is there a constructive alternative to Wikileaks?

I'm concerned that the strategy of Wikileaks seems to be one of "taking the bastards down" - ie destroying a system that he thinks doesn't work - without attempting to fix anything or provide alternatives.

Is there any way to push organisations or systems to evolve in more constructive directions, instead of just surrendering to mayhem?

I ask because I've just read a story about a soldier who discovered that the British Army is paying 33x the going price for lightbulbs, and responded by passing a copy of the invoice to a newspaper. Surely there must be some mechanism that would enable someone in this position to try and solve the problem before reporting it to the media.

There may be occasions when something untoward is being covered up and needs to be put under the microscope. There are also times when pointing out a failure may actually be welcomed - especially when incompetence and inefficiency are to blame and someone further up the food chain actually wants to do something about it.

Story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12643966

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    Mar 5 2011: Great question! When I read it I thought of a different aspect of WikiLeaks. It is alleged that these disclosures put agents at risk. Whatever you think about the work of covert agents of soverign govertments, the idea that a unilateral disclosure by WikiLeaks could result in this person possibly being killed as a result of these leaks, that bothers me. The other aspect of the leaks is uncovering expensive light bulbs.

    To the latter aspect, strengthening whistleblower laws and a process to protect these people during the process and thereby reducing the risk of making disclosures would help. I would envison a process by which a prospective whistle blower would go to a secure website of an independant agency (not-USG, but regulated by USG) who would establish that the disclosers computer was not compromised, establish the identity of the whistleblower using alternative methods including real world publicly available information and set up a secure login for them.

    Procedures would be needed to protect innocent institutions from baseless accusations by disgruntled employees who were about to be fired and try to use the disclosure process to fight that.

    We need to mobilize crowd-sourced waste prevention by people who are experts by virtue of working in the system.