Assange: Web Is Massive Spying Machine

Governments will use Internet against citizens, he warns

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 16, 2011 1:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Internet is the "greatest spying machine the world has ever known," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has warned in a speech. While the Web holds great promises of increasing transparency in government operations, it will more likely be used by officials to spy on their own citizens, he told students in a rare public appearance at Cambridge University. The Internet is "not a technology that favors freedom of speech. It is not a technology that favors human rights," he warned. "Rather, it is a technology that can be used to set up a totalitarian spying regime, the likes of which we have never seen."

Assange boasted that diplomatic cables leaked on his website helped foment the unrest in Tunisia that is sweeping across the region, reports the Guardian. And documents revealing support for torture by ousted Egypt leader Hosni Mubarak made it impossible for US officials to publicly support him, easing the way for the Egyptian uprising, said Assange. As for Bradley Manning, the soldier suspected of leaking masses of secret cables to WikiLeaks, he is "in a terrible situation," said Assange. For more on Manning's treatment, check out another Newser story here.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives for a court hearing in London last month.   (Getty Images)
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