L’équation du pouvoir a changé

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L’équation du pouvoir a changé

Une des choses qui nous ont arrêtés dans l’affaire Cablegate, après deux semaines d’intense bataille, c’est bien la forme nouvelle que prennent les forces en présence et le changement de situation des puissances que cela implique. C’est ce que nous exprimions le 8 décembre 2010, dans notre Bloc-Notes :

«Autrement dit, les directions politiques vont devoir vivre dans un monde type-Wikileaks, ou un LeakyWorld, ou plus aucune certitude n’est possible. Plus encore que les fuites elles-mêmes, ce qu’Assange et Wikileaks ont créé avec cette attaque spécifique, cette troisième attaque spécifiquement qui portait sur la “routine” du travail diplomatique US, c’est la peur désormais sans fin des fuites. Paul Woodward nomme cela (le 6 décembre 2010 sur son site War in Context) “une peur asymétrique”, l’expression correspondant à “guerre asymétrique” qui caractérise la G4G, ou Guerre de 4ème Génération. Mais il n’est pas assuré que le terme “asymétrique” soit complètement justifié dans ce cas, car ce qui fonde la puissance dans cette affaire ce sont l’information et la capacité de dynamiser cette information par la communication, – et, à cet égard, Assange et son réseau, et ses divers soutiens, et ses probables émules et successeurs, s’avèrent disposer d’une puissance qui n’est pas loin d’équivaloir à celle du Système. Il n'y a pas tant d'asymétrie que cela, et la peur est moins asymétrique que simplement fondamentale et ontologique...»

Cet analyse semble partagée par Mary Dejevsky dans un article de The Independent du 10 sécembre 2010, sous le titre «The power balance is shifting, for better and for worse»

Quelques extraits…

« Straws in the wind; ciphers in space... There is suddenly more to the Wiki-Leaks saga than once it seemed. What began as a wearying tour of US diplomacy is still that – a macho parading of openness for openness's sake. But what has now ensued offers a glimpse into the future, and holds out both a warning and a promise. […]

»Now, though, we are in a new dimension. The principled argument has turned practical; the virtual has become reality. Informed by the US authorities that dealings with WikiLeaks could be illegal, major companies severed their ties. A succession of internet servers stopped hosting Assange's website; Mastercard, PayPal and others refused to be the intermediaries for funds. WikiLeaks could not communicate its information and it could not raise funds. It was cut off.

»At least that is what was supposed to happen. But the many internet-savvy friends of Wiki-Leaks resisted. Substitute servers popped up to replace those that had barred Assange's operation, while PayPal and others found their sites hacked in revenge. Sweden's state prosecutor was similarly targeted in response to an extradition warrant accusing Assange of sex offences. This pro-WikiLeaks campaign called itself Operation Payback and used social networking sites to co-ordinate its assaults. A collective of “hacktivists”, styled Anonymous, claimed the credit.

»The last word might still rest with the state authorities. With the US State Department and such giants as Amazon, Visa and the like all ranged on the same side, how could it not? But the “outlaws” have acquired a certain capacity to wreck. This is a conflict in which the stakes are not nearly as unequal as they were before. […]

»But it is not just the capacity to negate the power of the state that makes cyber-warfare such a threat. It is that, even more effectively than in conventional terrorism, it has the potential to cancel out disparities in size and power.

»Governments have long feared asymmetric threats, by which they usually mean some form of terrorism. Yet the egalitarian effects of cyberspace are also where its greatest promise lies. From consumer complaints about rogue suppliers or poor service, posted on the internet, up to Operation Payback in support of WikiLeaks, the power of big concerns to get their way always and in everything is being challenged. The balance – between state and citizen, corporation and consumer, big and small – is shifting, for better as well as for worse.

»By no means everyone will accept that a single driven individual has the right to publish someone else's secrets to the world. If the US brings a judicial case against Assange, the arguments on both sides will be fascinating to follow. But the past week's tussle in cyberspace demonstrates how far and fast power has shifted, and raises the question of how far that shift still has to go.»

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