By Alexandra Rosenmann / AlterNetThis piece originally ran on AlterNet.

Noam Chomsky had a complex answer when asked if he sees a difference in the role technology companies play compared to Washington lawmakers in protecting and encouraging privacy:

“WikiLeaks is a democratizing force. It’s giving individuals access to decisions and thinking by their representatives. In a democracy that ought to be reflexive. But on the contrary. WikiLeaks is under heavy attack by the government, and corporations are participating in that by closing down their websites. But Julian Assange shouldn’t be the subject of grand jury hearings. He should be given a medal. He’s contributing to democracy.”

Assange and others established WikiLeaks in 2006. Since the release of the Chelsea Manning material, U.S. authorities began a long-term investigation of WikiLeaks and Assange, aiming to prosecute them under the Espionage Act of 1917.

However, classification is nothing new.

“Long before the technology revolution there was declassficifation of documents and … anybody who’s worked through the declassified record can see very clearly that the reason for classification is very rarely to protect the state or society from enemies. Most of the time it’s to protect the state from its citizens,” explained Chomsky. “So they don’t know what the government’s doing. … Which raises the question: Should we even have the classification system? Why shouldn’t these things be open?”

Chomsky did acknowledge that an exception to the unnecessary classified documents is copyright protection. “There are things that we want to keep secret like the characteristics of your latest fighter plane or something like that,” he said.

Watch: Chomsky discusses WikiLeaks:

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