WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently hosted a televised panel to discuss whether advances in Internet technology promote freedom or are simply being exploited to further government control over its citizens.
Assange and his “cypherpunk” guests debated the the deterioration of privacy in the Internet age, with topics ranging from how online services such as Google and Facebook enable collection of private information – to the United States government which allegedly engages in military-style surveillance of its own citizens.
“I see that there’s now a militarization of cyber space because we have interception across all national border points,” Assange opined. ”The military has control or the intelligence agencies have control of [our personal] data … so this is [definitely] some kind of militarization of civilian life.”
Assange has remained under house arrest in the UK for more than 500 days – despite the lack of official charges against him. On May 30th the UK Supreme Court ruled in a split decision against Assange’s appeal of Sweden’s request for extradition where the WikiLeaks founder faces multiple charges of sexual assault.
Assange – who denies the accusations – is concerned that extradition to Sweden could ultimately lead to his eventual transfer to the United States.
“The big risk, the risk we have always been concerned about, is onwards extradition to the United States. And that seems to be increasingly likely,” the WikiLeaks founder told the BBC. “A lot of face has been lost by some people and some… have careers to make by pursuing a famous case.”
Assange became a household name in 2010 after WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of classified US documents, including a video that showed US forces firing at Iraqi civilians and journalists whom they had mistaken for armed insurgents.