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WikiLeaks and the Perils of Oversharing

Back in 2010, The New York Times‘s writer, Noam Cohen wrote about how Wikileaks was making it harder and harder for governments to operate properly. This is, in part, was due to the imperiling of diplomatic relations.

What Was the Deal with Wikileaks?

Why are they being imperiled? It’s because of a lack of privacy. It’s the privacy needed to, essentially, establish trust between wary individuals. Governments need to be able to speak freely and privately without wondering if their negotiating fits and starts will end up on some website.

And, while I support that, some of it seems a tad disingenuous. After all, governments are deliberately online these days. So, to my mind (and perhaps I am totally wrong about this), isn’t all of the information out there stuff that these governments have placed online deliberately? After all, I’m not seeing anyone claiming there was a theft. Was there one? Perhaps I’m missing that.


A lot of the exposed information appears to be cables. And cables aren’t necessarily the most secure means of chatting. And, to add to the fun, these cables seem to – at least for a part of the time – be kind of juvenile in their assessments. Comparing Putin and Medvedev to Batman and Robin is, well, it’s not even High School. It’s Junior High, fer gosh sakes.

So, they used a less than perfectly secure means of communication. And they made a few embarrassing TMI-style statements, and in a snarky manner. And now the government is worried about that? Why didn’t they worry earlier?

Barn door, horse. You know the drill. And this is true whether you’re a government, or a company or an individual. Keep your mouth shut (or your fingers from typing) when it can be a future detriment to you! And you might want to be a bit liberal in your definition of detriment. E. g. be more miserly with your information than you might think. Because it’s impossible to unring this bell.

Or, as my friend , Robert Gentel says (and I can’t find the quote, sorry Rob!), “If you’ve got something private, the Internet is an awfully stupid place in which to put it.”

Wikileaks, 12 Years Later

I decided to republish this post because it’s almost quaint, in a way. As Twitter implodes under the weight of antisemitism and racism and Covid disinformation disguised as free speech, these seem to be small issues indeed.