rom an activist perspective, the importance of the Panama Papers goes far beyond confirming what the 99% already suspected. Yes, this gigantic leak provides more irrefutable evidence than ever that many among the global political elite – the 1% – probably deserve to be in jail (while paying their overdue taxes), not governing our world. But that is not surprising news to many people. The real significance of the Panama Papers is what the massive leak means for the possibility of social change.
The Panama Papers represents the coming-of-age of leaktivism. This is the activist theory, most famously promoted by WikiLeaks, that leaking truthful information is an effective form of social protest. Of course, this isn’t a new idea – “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32) – but with the rise of global whistleblower activists like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, leaking has become an increasingly celebrated tactic of contemporary activism.
This is a unique opportunity to test the effectiveness of leaktivism. The Panama Papers is arguably the perfect leak. First of all, the size is sublime: over 40 years of records, 11.5m files and 2.6 terabytes of data from the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm. This is a full leak, a leak that dwarfs all previous leaks in human history. Second, the Panama Papers are being dissected via an unprecedented collaboration between hundreds of highly credible international journalists who have been working secretly for a year. This is the global professionalization of leaktivism. The days of WikiLeaks amateurism are over.
-Micah White, columnista de The Guardian