Wikileaks really has me split down the middle. On the one hand I do take exception to military documents being leaked, if those document contain information that could directly endanger individuals in our military or others who have helped us. I’m not talking about the generic docs about our strength in numbers, how many planes, or bombs we have – they may be classified, but they aren’t likely to be used against us. I’m talking about the documents that actually name people specifically like: contractors, translators, guides, and sympathizers. Certain people need anonymity for their sake and the sake of their families. According to Wikileaks there have been no tragedies yet, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.
Now, from a consumer standpoint, I believe that we have fundamental rights for our own protection against corporations who are out to use their power and influence to take advantage of people. Our economic model is very good at bringing producers and consumers together, what it isn’t good at is policing some of the fallout of these transactions as the stronger party starts to act in bad faith. We need an element of transparency, and Wikileaks is going to be bringing us a whole lot of it in the coming weeks. The paragraph below has just one example of a scheme by Bank of America that a whistleblower has sent to Wikileaks.
Bank of America, one of the most trusted, and largest, lenders in the country was engaged in a scheme to cheat some of their mortgage holders. You read the whole scheme here, but the basics are simple. Bank of America would stop paying a mortgage holder’s homeowners insurance, they would get cancelled, then B of A would use a subsidiary that they owned and place insurance on the property. The homeowner would be without insurance and B of A would still be collecting a premium monthly from that homeowner on a policy that would only protect B of A’s interest, and not the homeowner’s. Oops! Your house burned down, sorry you aren’t covered. However, Bank of America can make a claim for your mortgage amount to pay themselves the full balance, while you are stuck homeless, no money and still liable for the balance, even though B of A covered their loss already with the money you paid them!
Summing up Wikileaks, I have no problem with leaks that make businesses more transparent and accountable to consumers, as a matter of fact I welcome it. When it comes to military information, and I do believe we certainly need a level of transparency there as well, I think we are safer if Wikileaks didn’t publish that type of information.
Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.