Wikileaks, Palileaks…is ANYTHING secret any more?
The concepts of the words "Confidential", "Secret", "Classified" have changed dramatically, the world over, in the past few months.
And this should effect all of us.
For many years, information which was expected to be hidden from public view, has occasionally “leaked” to the public arena. Confidential government discussions appear the next morning in the national newspapers; published memoirs have exposed delicate or scandalous information for centuries; and prying eyes & spies have always meant that confidential and secret information can be compromised.
However, we have never seen exposure of concealed information on the scale of Wikileaks, blogs and me-too publications, such as the latest batch of over a thousand Palestinian internal documents, leaked to Al Jazira and The Guardian.
This is mainly a combination of the new will to break centuries old protocols and protective barriers, with the technological means to practically avoid Big Brother mechanisms which exist in all societies.
In almost every job, and in almost every family and community, there are secrets.
Lawyers, accountants, therapists, scientists, engineers, financiers, you name it, are all required to protect confidentiality for clients and for the corporation. Without confidentiality, almost every business sector would not be able to function.
In every family, there is insider information, of higher or lower severity, which is not for outsider knowledge. In the words of Zazu in The Lion King, “There's one in every family sire. Two in mine, actually.”
And in every community or club, there is inside information, which could compromise the standing of the community/club, were it to become public knowledge. Such privileged information is also part of what bonds the members. The secret handshake, and all which follows.
Whether these wholesale exposes we have seen in the past months of privileged information is, on balance, good for the world, or not, remains to be seen.
Just as we (should!) all explain to our kids that there are good secrets (dad’s making mum a surprise birthday party) and that there are bad secrets (don’t tell you mom about what I did to you…), so in all walks of life there’s important confidences, and there’s dirty secrets.
Dirty/bad secrets are best exposed – though the process can be painful. Like a foreign object in our body, “better out than in” is a vital safety mechanism for securing the well being of everyone.
What is immediately clear, but not yet absorbed, is that ALL privileged, confidential, private, classified information, in all walks of life, is now susceptible to instant exposure, on an unprecedented scale.
For those who keep legitimate confidences, you need to immediately re-assess every aspect of your privacy safeguards, and information & data security.
For those who hold dirty secrets, your days are numbered.
Every secret is no longer so secret.