Government Secrecy, the Ethics of Wikileaks, and the Fifth Estate


  • Edward H Spence



This paper aims to systematically explore and provide answers to the following key questions: When is government secrecy justified? In a conflict between government secrecy and the public’s right to be informed on matters of public interest, which ought to take priority? Is Julian Assange a journalist and what justifies his role as a journalist? Even if Julian Assange is a journalist of the new media, was he justified in disseminating classified information to the public? Who decides what is in “the public interest”? Is it only journalists of the Fourth Estate who decide that or also journalists of the Fifth Estate (new media)? This paper will answer the aforementioned questions by arguing that the media in the form of both the Fourth and Fifth Estates should inform the public on matters of public interest truthfully and ethically, even if sometimes they have to breach government secrecy.




How to Cite

Spence, Edward H. 2012. “Government Secrecy, the Ethics of Wikileaks, and the Fifth Estate”. The International Review of Information Ethics 17 (July). Edmonton, Canada:37-45.