‘Healthy democracies understand that secrecy is the exception, not the rule’: Assange

Julian Assange has said he is not bored after spending two years in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK and that he doesn’t have enough time to sleep.

He answered questions on what he thought was the most important piece of information Wikileaks has leaked, as well as saying Edward Snowden performed an “intelligent and heroic act” when he leaked internal security documents from the NSA.

The Wikileaks founder was answering questions as part of a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), where members of the community are invited to ask questions of a noteworthy participant.

In answering a question on what he does all day in the embassy, he said: “I only wish there was a risk of boredom in my present situation.

“Besides being the centre of a pitched, prolonged diplomatic standoff, along with a police encirclement of the building I am in and the attendant surveillance and government investigations against myself and my staff, I am in one of the most populous cities in Europe, and everyone knows my exact location.”

In total he posted 11 comments in response to those from users of the social media site. Overall there were more than 4,600 comments left on the thread in just over an hour. 

The AMA came on the second anniversary of Assange hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK.

He entered the embassy in June 2012 as he tried to avoid being extradited to Sweden.

Assange entered the embassy due to accusations that he sexually assaulted two women in Stockholm. He fears that if he were to go to Sweden he would be extradited to the US in relation to state secrets revealed by Wikileaks.

The official Wikileaks twitter account, which has more than two million followers tweeted that he was participating in the AMA – as a verification that it was actually Assange answering questions.

The best of the questions and answers 

Q: We are screaming for change, but what steps can we take?

A: … What can ordinary people do? Support and promote projects that are acting at scale. WikiLeaks is my realisation of this tension, but there are a flood of others starting. The clash between diversity and global uniformity which has been created by wiring the world to itself is now in play. You are the troops.

Q: What would you say was the most important piece of information you have leaked?

A: Our ongoing PLUSD series, which contains more than two million cables, has had by far the most impact and continues to be used in court cases and elections every week. You can search it here. 

Closest to my heart, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Collateral Murder and the military histories of nearly every death and incident in Iraq + Afghanistan.

Q: If you had a chance to do this all again, would you, and what changes would you make?

A: Again – definitely; we only live once and every day spent living your principles is a day at liberty. It is clear that history is on our side. Most of our difficult decisions are constrained by resource limits, not ideas. But I was ignorant about the extent of Sweden’s geopolitical reliance with the United States and to some extent the structure of UK society. You can read about that here.


Q: How do you think history will remember you, and how do you feel about that?

A: For presidents it is important, but for the rest of us it is more important to get things done and see your legacy in the world. We’re doing well in the more academic or comprehensive histories and outside the worst aspects of the English speaking mainstream press. Smears don’t have much staying power on their own because they deviate from the foundations of reality (what actually happened). They require constant energy from our opponents to keep going. The truth has a habit of reasserting itself.

Q: Why did you start Wikileaks? [paraphrased]

A: Confidential government documents we have published disclose evidence of war crimes, criminal back-room dealings and sundry abuses. That alone legitimates our publications, and that principally motivates our work. Secrecy was never intended to enable criminality in the highest offices of state. Secrecy is, yes, sometimes necessary, but healthy democracies understand that secrecy is the exception, not the rule.

The full AMA can be found here.

Featured image courtesy of Ars Electronica via Flickr/Creative Commons Licence

Assange image courtesy of Bedingungen ansehen via Wikipedia/Creative Commons Licence 

Internet of Everything: the key to tackling the elderly care crisis?

A combination of network-enabled monitoring devices, video streams and remotely-connected care workers could help to tackle the rising burden of elderly care.

In a talk at London’s Internet World 2014, Cisco UK and Ireland chief technology officer Ian Foddering explained how a combination of the Internet of Things, data processes and people, which he dubbed the Internet of Everything, could be used to taking elderly care, reducing hospital visits and increasing home treatment.

Foddering highlighted how operations on over 65s had risen by 60% in the UK over the past decade, with accident and emergency visits for the age group increasing by 55% over the same period.

As with many westernised countries the UK is also facing the prospect of a boom in the elderly population, with Foddering saying that by 2020 there will be 19 million people in the country over 65.

“I believe technology can be used to address these problems,” he said.


He described how Cisco had trialled the use of network-enabled monitoring devices in care homes to reduce the need for hospital visits.

If a resident needed medical assistance, they were connected to a remotely located healthcare professional, with healthcare staff available on the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“As a result they were able to drastically reduce the time patients spent in hospital,” explained Foddering.

He argued that using technology to provide home treatment has a significant effect both on patients and health resources.

“Being able to stem and treat at source those individuals rather than come into hospital can have a huge impact,” he said.

Home treatment technology is increasingly being explored for a wide variety of medical applications, including home blood testing, doctor’s visits and even medical marijuana consultations.


Networked medical devices may also prove life-saving in some circumstances, particularly where time is of the essence.

Foddering cited a pilot involving head trauma patients, where treatment in the “golden hour” immediately after injury is vital to recovery.

He described how paramedics were provided with technology to connect the patient to the hospital to provide real-time information to the hospital while the patient travels there.

This can improve the chances of treatment success because it provides the hospital with clear and detailed information about the patient’s condition so they are prepared upon arrival. Normally, this information would have to be provided once the patient arrived, eating into the value golden hour.

Body image 2 courtesy of Markus Spiering via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Body image 2 courtesy of pix.plz via Flick/Creative Commons.