WikiLeaks Panel – Why it matters

Yesterday The Churchill Club and ThoughtWorks together put on a panel about WikiLeaks, in Santa Clara. It featured Clay Shirky, Daniel Ellsberg, Jonathan Zittrain, Peter Thiel, and Roy Singham, with Paul Jay from the Real News as moderator. I’m personally extremely happy with how it turned out. I’ve been involved in working on this panel for a while now, and it eclipsed all my expectations.

Everyone on the panel made important contributions, and I think everyone in the audience left having learnt many new things. I’m not going to recap the actual panel here. Instead, you can read a report of it here. You can also see the panel at here. If you are in the least interested in these issues, I strongly urge you to see the whole panel. To me, it reiterated how important these events really are, and that we need to fight for our freedom.

US government behind Swedish Internet laws?

Just after Christmas, the leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, Rickard Falkvinge, published some information this is deeply disturbing if it’s true. It’s not so much that the information inside is new, but that I’ve gotten more confirmation of things I thought were possible, but wasn’t entirely sure of.

To set the context about these things, it’s necessary to know that the last five years in Sweden has seen a marked rise from the government pushing for legislations related to Internet freedom, privacy and wiretapping. Sweden has traditionally had very good policies for these things, but that has been eroded the last years with things like IPRED, FRA, the persecution of The Pirate Bay, the proposed measures in the so called Renfors inquiry (Renforsutredningen) and many other things.

The information Falkvinge posted gives proof that all these measures have been a focused push by the US government, and that the Swedish government have easily been manipulated or told to follow the US governments suggestion. This information comes from a WikiLeaks diplomatic cable called Stockholm 09-141, which details how Sweden should not be put on the Special 301 list by the US Government, because the Swedish government has been pliant enough and made enough progress on the measures mentioned above.

If you read Swedish, you can read Falkvinke’s post here. If you want to see the text of the cable itself, you can see it in English here. As a Swede, I’m very unhappy to see these things confirmed. Once again, WikiLeaks have shown us something we didn’t know before.

Panel on Internet Freedom

Next week, ThoughtWorks and The Churchill Club is organizing a live panel about Internet freedom and the implications of the recent WikiLeaks events. This is going to be a world class event with very engaging speakers, and it will also be streamed live if you can’t attend in person. Daniel Ellsberg, Peter Thiel, Clay Shirky, Jonathan Zittrain and Roy Singham will discuss various important subjects touching on the WikiLeaks controversy:

WikiLeaks: Why it Matters. Why it Doesn’t?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
5:30-8:30 PM Pacific Standard Time

The purpose of this discussion is to take an objective look at the WikiLeaks controversy and its potential threats to the future of the free Internet. Notwithstanding the varied personal opinions of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, this issue reaches beyond the actions of one person or one website. Precedents that will determine the very future of the Internet are being set as the world grapples with new social and information models. This is a serious issue worthy of serious discussion and debate.

Paul Jay, CEO and senior editor of The Real News Network will moderate the panel, which includes:

  • Daniel Ellsberg, Former State and Defense Dept. Officialy prosecuted for releasing the Pentagon Papers
  • Clay Shirky, Independent Internet Professional; Adjunct Professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University
  • Neville Roy Singham, Founder and Chairman, ThoughtWorks
  • Peter Thiel, President, Clarium Capital; Managing Partner, Founder’s Fund
  • Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law and Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University; Co-founder, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Please join us along with other executives from diverse industries and positions, all of whom will gather to listen and engage with these panelists who represent a rich cross section of the communities impacted by the WikiLeaks issue.

Attend in person!

Santa Clara Marriott: 2700 Mission College Boulevard · Santa Clara, California 95054 USA

A buffet dinner will be served.

To register to attend this event please visit the Churchill Club’s Website at : There is a small charge for this event, however guests of ThoughtWorks may use a special discount, gtworks25, to receive the Churchill Club’s member rate.

View live-streamed event

The Real News Network:

Twitter has backbone

It has just been revealed that a subpoena was delivered to Twitter in mid December. This subpoena asked for the content of several Twitter accounts, including private messages, means of finance etc. And it was sealed – which means Twitter was denied the right to inform anyone that it has received this subpoena. The only reason that we now know about this is that Twitter decided to go to court and get the seal released. And as a result of that, we know that the US government is going after Julian Assange and Bradley Mannings, but also a member of the Icelandic parliament, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and several others. Depending on how you read the subpoena, it can also mean that the US government is asking for information about anyone following these accounts.

This is the first real information we have got that the department of justice is actively leading an investigation into Wikileaks. It is worrying that Twitter had to take legal action to even mention that this subpoena exists. Everyone is asking whether Facebook, Google, Amazon and others have gotten similar requests but haven’t fought to make it public.

All I can say is that this shows Twitter doing the right thing. They followed the law but also did what they could to make right by the people who use its service. I wish more companies would follow that lead.