While the headlines this year may have been dominated by WikiLeaks, these three activists led their own transparency campaigns, largely without the same spotlight and in countries where they made a difference. In a society where muckrakers are regularly beaten up and even killed, Russian lawyer and blogger Alexey Navalny has turned his crowdsourced anti-corruption site RosPil.info into a heat-seeking missile against bloated and rapacious government contracts. By this fall, Navalny had saved the Russian government nearly 7.7 million rubles by calling attention to and then torpedoing wasteful deals, not to mention offering a mainstream face for the growing Russian anti-corruption movement.
Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former deputy of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who turned against his boss and wrote a blistering memoir accusing him of being too politically motivated, not to say megalomaniacal, is developing his own leaked-documents site, OpenLeaks, focused on exposing corruption worldwide rather than chasing Assange's great white whale, the United States. And Sami Ben Gharbia, a blogger and civil society advocate connected with Ethan Zuckerman's (No. 73) Global Voices project, brought WikiLeaks into the closed society of pre-revolutionary Tunisia, pumping out exclusive "TuniLeaks" via his Nawaat group blog. Cables from the U.S. ambassador detailed a society rotten with greed from top to bottom: "With those at the top believed to be the worst offenders, and likely to remain in power, there are no checks in the system," read one cable, released on Dec. 8, 2010. Days later, Tunisia exploded into pro-democracy riots. "Everyone could read the documents; they helped tip the balance," Ben Gharbia said. As Domscheit-Berg told the New York Times in February, "Sometimes if you look at raw, unfiltered information … then the truth is very blunt, and that is something that has a completely different impact on people."
Muse My wife and son.
Stimulus or austerity? Another system.
America or China? The world.
Arab Spring or Arab Winter? World spring.
Reading list The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide, by Tom Devine and Tarek F. Maassarani; Die Müllmafia (The Garbage Mafia), by Sandro Mattioli and Andrea Palladino; WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency, by Micah L. Sifry.
Best idea Occupy Wall Street.
Worst idea Introducing facial recognition for 800 million users without asking for explicit consent.