Whistleblowing is one of the most prevalent issues in the current world. Internet proliferation has greatly intensified whistleblowing. The rate, at which people are exposing secret information about the government and businesses, has raised questions of whether the act has any benefits. It is important to note that some of the organizations or people who act as whistleblowers claim that openness and transparency are some of the noble ideas that push them to exposing the well-kept government secrets. Experts claim that by exposing government sensitive information, whistleblowers jeopardize the lives of citizens and soldiers of a particular country in the event the exposed materials fall into the wrong hands (Alford, 210). In the modern world, people want near-complete connectedness and transparency. However, it is important to understand the ethical implications of revealing government secrets through whistleblowing.
One of the obvious things in the current world is that confidentiality and secrecy are the two staples of corporate and government operations across the globe. Most of the governments in the concurrent world have a hierarchical system of their classified information. This classified information maintained by the government stretches from unclassified information to top-secret information. The exposing of any classified information regardless of its level would damage to a certain degree a country’s national security. In addition, the exposure of classified government information might put the relationship the country has with other countries, mostly trade partners, in jeopardy, which is something that might affect the economy of that country (Alford, 222). Trade secret laws govern the corporate world. Trade secrets law provides the corporate world with the authority to retain any information that it considers to be confidential. It is imperative to note that the corporate sector is affected in equal proportion as the government in case any confidential information is exposed.
As mentioned earlier, the publishing of government secrets by whistleblowers causes collateral damage to innocent people. For instance, in the case of the Wikileak’s publication, the U.S. Defense secretary in charge of the Afghan war claimed that WikiLeaks’ actions compromised the lives of people who had assisted the US government in Afghanistan in danger. The Defense secretary claimed that some of the people whose name had been exposed by WikiLeaks had been killed. In addition, the Defense secretary claimed that the lives of the family members were in danger after the exposure.
Another implication of the publishing of government secrets by whistleblowers is that it strains the relationship that a certain government has with other governments. For instance, during the WikiLeaks’ publications, it was revealed that an American helicopter had crashed causing the deaths of dozens of innocent civilians in Bagdad. America received criticism from several international countries following the deaths of the innocent civilians caused by the American helicopter. Thus, exposing government secrets can create strains between countries. For a country such as America with the numerous foreign enemies, exposure of such sensitive information makes it hard to remain at peace with other countries.
At thw same time, exposure of government secret information strains the relationship that the government has with its people. In the event that the information exposed to the people reveals a different perspective that people have about their government, animosity is generated between the government and the citizens. The strained relationship that people have with their governments is revealed by the results of the elections that follow. It would be very hard for a sitting president whose image has been stained before the public to win the next elections. It is obvious that most of the people in the country would not vote for him as their president. For example, in one of the recent cases of whistleblowers, the relationship of the American government and the citizens has been stained. According to the NASA revelations, people are concerned about the extent of surveillance that the government has put on them (Alford, 276). Most of Americans are not comfortable with the type of information that the government keeps about them.
The exposure of government secret information may create anarchy in a country. People can easily cause an uprising as they are aware of all the government secrets. Through the power of the information that people might possess following the leaking of these secret fact by whistleblowers, all the government weaknesses are exposed to the public. People also might start trying to expose the weaknesses that the government might be having. Still, in regard to the issue of the revelation of the government weaknesses by whistleblowers, the enemies of the state might also utilize the secret information about the government to their advantage (Vaughn, 189). In the event that the enemies know some of the key weaknesses that the government has, they might exploit the government using these weaknesses.
Exposure of government secret information by whistleblowers has had a negative impact on intellectual freedom. One of the things that the exposure of government confidential information has had an effect on is the freedom of speech. In trying to discourage other organizations or people from making confidential information public, the government has established numerous bills. For instance, in trying to stop WikiLeaks from making a publication about the secret information it had about the government, some US senators introduced a bill that would make this possible (Vaughn, 201). The bill would ensure that WikiLeaks does not publicize the names of the intelligence community informants working for the government. The Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act made it possible for the government to apprehend any person who would give any information that would compromise national security. In addition to the Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act, the senate has adopted several other bills that affect the intellectual freedom that people have. For instance, the bill under discussion allows the US government to wiretap all internet traffic and all forms of online communication. It is imperative to note that the government has the license to wiretap even the foreign-based internet traffic providers. The other feature of the wiretap bill to be discussed is that the government is entitled to authorize its software developers to intercept people’s private discussions (Alford, 222). In relation to the issue of loss of intellectual freedom, the loss of the rights that journalists have to protect materials leads to transparency issues. It is evident that the disclosure of the sources of information might lead to the loss of jobs among people who act as the sources to information that is exposed.
On the positive side, the leaking of the government secret information might help bolster the unity that the country has with its citizens. For instance, if the leaked information is positive, people would have greater belief in their government in spite of the avenue, in which the information reached them. A government might be keeping secret information about the availability of high-tech weapons that can help protect the country and its citizens in the event a war broke out between it and its enemies (Vaughn, 112). In such a scenario, people might be more confident in matters to do with their security as they know about the existence of these high-tech weapons.
On the other hand, exposure of government secret information is helpful in reducing cases of corruption and brutality in the country. In cases of whistleblowing, illegal government undertakings are revealed to the public by the whistleblowers. It is from such revelations that people get to know of the corrupt undertakings of government officials. It is important to note that such revelations have caused major government changes following events such as sacking or voluntary resignation of the involved persons. The members of the civil society use such information in their effort to struggle with government grafts. It is through these revelations that the members of the civil societies are able to provide evidence of the human rights violations that are caused by the government (Vaughn, 301). In the WikiLeaks whistleblowing case, it was clear that the American government had a hand in the killing of thousands of innocent people. It is with such information that the civil society is able to sue the government for committing atrocities against humanity.
It is evident that the leaking of government secrets by whistleblowers has several impacts. One of the impacts that the leaking of government secret information has is that the government might have a strained relationship with other government and its citizens. It is important that a government ensures that it is in good relationship with other governments due to the economic political and social implications. For instance, a country might get into war with other countries as a result of secret information exposure. In addition, as a result of exposure of government secret confidential information due to whistleblowing, the weaknesses of the government can be surfaced among other countries, which might affect the country negatively. On a positive note, the revealing of government secret information is helpful in the fighting of graft cases in that particular country.