Whistleblowers, Hacktivists and Leakers: Is there a difference?

When you hear these words, what does it make you think of? Many people believe that all 3 are criminals or that a hacktivist is a felon.  But wait.  If any of the 3 do what they do for to expose a wrongdoing in a government and show the people the documents that prove the act happened, should that be a crime?

The 3 names that come to mind are Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Lauri Love. Chelsea was in the military when he leaked his documents to Wikileaks. He was convicted of being a traitor but later set free for releasing classified documents which disclosed war crimes by the US.  Edward Snowden is a whistleblower who showed us all how the government is spying on us and violating our 4th amendment rights to privacy.  Lauri Love is a hacktivist who will be going on trial for also gaining data by hacking into a US database.  All 3 are considered criminals in the US.

Is disclosing a scandal really a crime?  What about Julian Assange and Wikileaks who simply published information given to them that also exposed corruption at the highest level of government?  Julian Assange would face 45 years in prison if extradited to the United States.

Ask yourself this.  If whistleblowers, hacktivists, and leakers did not exist, would governments be held accountable for the misconduct they hide behind closed doors?  Are laws too strict on these individuals?

Yes, in the United States the laws are incredibly strict.  No other democracy in the world has stricter laws.  Punishment for individuals who commit an act of exposure often faces the rest of their life in prison and outrageous fees.  In fact, most face more time than a rapist, murderer or pedophile.  Why should they get more time than acts of violence?

Simply put, the treatment of the above is unfair and oftentimes way overboard.  It is time that government officials stop persecuting these people and reward them for doing the right thing.  After all, when we turn our heads to wrong, we are just as guilty.


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