That said, whistle-blowing is a moral decision which is far from being simple. Not only most of the times it can be considered an illegal act (there is a varying degree of legal frameworks on this issue) to obtain restricted information, there is also the question of possible retaliation by the organizations accused, which can include smear campaigns, loss of employment or other forms of harassment. The decision to ‘blow the whistle’ is closely interwoven with strong moral convictions and the practical belief that somewhere, someone might be able to provide a solution to injustice.
Evolution of the practice
In the last phase of the 2oth century and the beginning of the 21st, the dynamics of whistle-blowing have changed deeply, shifting towards new models. In general we can say that with certain projects they have become institutionalized, have an international scope and due to their merging with Internet and hacker culture, many have become more radical in their means. All demonstrate, in an empiric manner, that whistle-blowing is going beyond the traditional model described above.
The success of Wikileaks is an example for these assertions. It is a not-for-profit media organization that since 2006 has been bent on giving the general public access to the inside information of government and private entities around the world, with a varying degree of success but with an unquestioned impact on the practice. Although the publication of the Cablegate in 2010, around 250 thousand classified cables of the U.S. State Department, is considered the biggest leak of U.S. history, providing evidence of widespread corruption in different organizations around the world, its main value is not derived from this fact.
The examples below show that whistle-blowing, originally designed for concrete cases, is becoming closer to the struggle for the simple right to know things, the attitude of these new activists is making information – in a broader sense – free and globally accessible. This trend is becoming a worldwide movement, a transnational and popular community struggling for freedom and autonomy in transparency.
As Coleman stated, in September 2010 “coming in the form of politically motivated DDoS attacks, Anonymous targeted the MPAA (and eventually other organizations and companies) to show support for the famous file-sharing site, The Pirate Bay soon after its servers were DDoSed by an Indian software firm that had been hired by the MPAA to engage in this form of digital privateering”. The important shift came in “December 2010, soon after Wikileaks released a small trove of diplomatic cables, those participating in Operation Payback shifted their energies to engage in the largest and most spectacular set of actions to date. Anonymous did not protest only to register its support to Wikileaks; they launched into action in response to PayPal, Mastercard, and Amazon pulling all support and services for Wikileaks, despite the organization not having been charged with any infraction”.