WikiLeaks CableGate and the Multi-Stakeholder Model of Internet Governance
Abstract: Internet is recognised as an alternative media tool that has the potential to stimulate civic cultures, mobilize and sustain civil society networks. It is also perceived as an important tool for social change that offers a powerful communication platform for different social groups to advance their views and ideology online in a significantly less controlled way than it is done through traditional media. In the end of 2010, the release of U.S. secret diplomatic on the Internet by the non-profit organisation WikiLeaks got an instant global outreach through the Internet and primarily, through the Wikileaks website – www.wikileaks.org. The immediate reaction to this resulted in governmental pressure on global providers of Internet services to stop servicing the website, thus preventing the global public from accessing the materials. The project studies the discussion that has arisen in the context of these actions and examines the communication tactics used by civil society and governmental actors in this discussion in order to advance an ideology of the right to communicate, and civil society participation in forming and safeguarding Internet principles. The project looks deeper at ideological, participatory, and developmental issues brought up in the discussion around the restriction of access to the main Wikileaks website, and how do they relate to eventual processes of social change. The study is based on Fairclough's framework on critical discourse analysis, and is grounded in the theoretical framework of participation, discourse and ideology. The main conclusion of the study is that the discussion around the Wikileaks CableGate case has clearly articulated the necessity of common Internet principles and democratic framework built in an inclusive and participatory manner through the active involvement of civil society actors in order to preserve the core values and enabling potential of Internet as media, and that an effective model for this is the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance.
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