Yesterday’s post about Snowden seemed be controversial (although I didn’t intend for it to be.)
So now I’m curious: if you take him as a personality out of the equation, do you think it’s ever ok to leak information about what you suspect are super shady activities, either as an employee of the government, or of a corporation?
Are there conditions that make it justified? What would “super shady” mean for you? As I was writing this post, I came across this news item about Google employees fired for whistleblowing recently as well - additional food for thought.
As always, looking forward to a good discussion!
Previous open threads:
Open source tools from big tech companies
Good recommender systems
Interesting you phrased the question that way. I would have asked "Is whistleblowing ever *not* OK?" If we've decided that government is *for the people*, shouldn't we know what they're up to? And for private companies, if they're breaking the law, shouldn't that come to light?
I think the Boeing 737 Max incident is a pretty good proof that more whistleblowing should be acceptable (saying this as a newish Boeing employee via an acquisition this year).
Yes, whistleblowing is an acceptable and long American tradition that has led to important reforms in the past.
I think the problem with Snowden is that while he has certainly positioned himself as a "whistleblower," that's not exactly what he did. He pursued a strategy of surreptitiously collecting sensitive data, software and communications for a very long time (two years, no?), and then... fled the country. And where did he go? Directly to *China.* Where'd he go after that? To Russia! That's not "whistleblowing." That's something else.
To believe that Snowden is not an agent of Russian (or, perhaps at one point, Chinese) intelligence beggars belief at this point. Perhaps he was just recruited by a foreign agency - that, too, has a long history in American intelligence. And perhaps he wasn't, and he just made a really bad mistake and now has no option but to stay in Russia or face a trial. Simply keeping him safe there - with internet access - scores Russia propaganda points all across the board. But it would be very naive to believe that Russian/Chinese intel hasn't plumbed him for all of the information he brought with him.
A wise person once said, "a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." Seems best to decide what you'll choose ahead of time, because in the moment it's easy to justify letting things slide because "I've got to feed my family."
I'm flabbergasted, especially at this political moment, by this question.
If you see someone doing something morally wrong, you have a moral obligation to report it. "I was just following orders" hasn't cut it since Nuremberg.
Mixed feelings here.
On one hand, it's always good to know if the gov or companies are doing bad with our data, but I don't know if at the end of the day it's solving something or if this should have a limit.
Ex: If some journalist of "big jorna" got the list of "US Infiltered Assets overseas", should this journalist disclosure this or not?
But it's a good topic.
Absolutely it's okay! I think of myself has having commitments to work in the interests of different parties - sometimes I'm working in my own interests, sometimes that of my family, my employer, my nation, etc. These interests compete. As far as I'm concerned, whistleblowing is just saying "I hold one obligation higher than another, and one of these parties I have obligations to [the government, in Snowden's case] is working against another [the American people]"