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[op-ed snap] Fog of secrecy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Transparency and the role of whistleblowers

Context

Australian newspapers published redacted front pages on Monday, protesting curbs on the press in the name of national security. 

Right to know

  • The Right to Know campaign has drawn competing publications to protest the impact of national security laws on press freedoms, and on the whistleblowers who bring in the bad news. 

Background to the news

  • The headquarters of ABC were raided over stories alleging war crimes committed in Afghanistan by Australian special forces.
  • The Australian government instructed police to consider the importance of a free press and the public interest before proceeding against the media. 
  • But the government seems reluctant to treat the journalists’ broader demands favourably.

Transparencyrole of whistleblowers 

  • Governments become more opaque and intrusive at the same time. 
  • With intensifying information asymmetry in politics, whistleblowers and digital activists like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Christopher Wylie have become crucial sources of insight about the intent of governments.
  • They are also defenders of the liberties taken in the lee of security laws. 
  • Some of them may have personal motives, but that is secondary in comparison to the value of their efforts to the public interest.
  • They seek the right to contest search warrants, new rules for determining what the government can stamp as secret, reform in the law of defamation and freedom of information, the protection of journalists from national security laws and whistleblower protection. 

Conclusion

It is important to dispel the fog of secrecy, which governments have revelled in since the colonial era.

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