Wikileaks and the Middle East uprisings have illustrated the new challenges government’s face in controlling the impact of technology. As Schmidt and Cohen correctly conclude states will struggle to control information and individuals in the age of social networks.
In the Middle East, new connection technologies have been utilized to mobilize political opposition against despot leaders. Some Middle Eastern governments have been forced to become more open and accountable, such as Egypt and Tunisia. Yet, other governments have used these new tools to constrain opposition and become more closed and repressive. In countries such as Iran and Syria, social networking sites have been utilized by security forces to co-opt protest and search out dissidents. Indeed, there has been a struggle between those striving to promote what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called ‘the freedom to connect’ and those who view that freedom as inimical to their political survival.
Again Schmidt and Cohen correctly conclude that new technologies and networking will clash with well-founded concerns about national security. Dealing with the Wikileak’s releases has posed a particular challenge to America’s precarious balance of transparency v security. What the U.S. government considers secret has risen 75%, from 105,163 in 1996 to 183,224 in 2009, according to the U.S. Information Security Oversight Office However, instead holding “tightly to freedom and openness" as Schmidt and Cohen suggest, the U.S. will likely choose its unprecedented classifications. Meanwhile, Bradley Manning sits in isolation in a Kansas prison, awaiting trial. He face charges that could carry the death penalty for his alleged participation in the leaks.