I, for one, am hopeful that it can. Wikileaks is a website that allows anyone to anonymously post confidential information as a means of providing a more permanent, public record of corporate or governmental wrongdoing.
Why do people trust Wikileaks? Because it would defeat their own purpose to break the trust of the community to keep their identity private. Clearly, people understand this, since Wikileaks is already apparently doing a bangup job at recruiting whistle blowers to provide documents:
Already, the site claims to have received 1.2 million documents, which will be available when Wikileaks goes live some time in the next two months. As an example of what to expect, the site’s organizers posted a memo on civil war policy issued in November 2005 by the Somalian Islamic court system’s Office of the Chief of the Imams. Wikileaks also posted a 17-page analysis of the memo.
1.2 million documents, and the site isn’t even live yet. In one sense, there is hope on the horizon that this could be a potential source of leverage, a new tool to level the playing field between huge corporations, and the people that are employed by them, or are otherwise affected by their business practices.
On the other hand, the possibility also exists for abuse, and it will be interesting to see how Wikileaks battles against the interests of embittered ex-employees, jilted consumers, and fed-up “not-in-my-back-yard” activists to keep the content of their site honest and, therefore, credible.