December 13, 2010 1:43PM

Wikileaks: Galvanizing ‘Cyber‐​Conservatism’?

Mercatus Center senior research fellow (and Cato alum) Jerry Brito has an interesting Wikileaks post on Tech Liberation Front.

The most vocal and strident reaction against Wikileaks has come from folks we can identify as neocons. Aside from demanding that the U.S. hunt down Julian Assange, Charles Krauthammer wrote, “Putting U.S. secrets on the Internet, a medium of universal dissemination new in human history, requires a reconceptualization of sabotage and espionage — and the laws to punish and prevent them.” Meanwhile Marc Thiessen, ignoring the distributed nature of WikiLeaks, called for the U.S. to “rally a coalition of the willing to defeat WikiLeaks by shutting down its servers and cutting off its finances.” And William Kristol, for his part, asked rhetorically, “Why can’t we disrupt and destroy WikiLeaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible? Why can’t we warn others of repercussions from assisting this criminal enterprise hostile to the United States?”

Jerry is kind to these commentators, who will find fighting the Internet like fighting the wind. From the right, they join voices on the left who argue for limitations on Internet communications in the name of privacy and human dignity.

Where do libertarians stand? (Or “cyber‐​libertarians,” if we must.)

Says Brito,

To me, libertarians simply have a narrower view of what information control is desirable, with harm to individuals as the relevant standard. They also prefer individual choices and self‐​regulation to state control. And to the extent that state control is unavoidable, they want to ensure robust due process and protection of individual liberties.