Flutterby™! : Keeping secrets

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Keeping secrets

2010-12-04 18:47:49.547288+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

A lot of people have been mentioning that the U.S. State Department is warning prospective students to not post links to Wikileaks on social networking sites.

Now as much as I'm not generally against the Wikileaks leaks, this is generally smart: A bunch of trusting someone to keep secrets is to know that they're not gonna be casual with confirming or denying things that appear to be common knowledge.

Which is very related to the Valerie Plame situation. It doesn't matter if it's "common knowledge", or has shown up on the cover of Aviation Leak Week, if you're part of a secrecy chain and want to maintain that chain, that means a bunch of denying that something exists outside of the very defined space in which that secret isn't.

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#Comment Re: made: 2010-12-04 22:34:30.486728+00 by: ebradway

I've actually become a little concerned about this issue. NGA happens to be on a hiring spree at the same time the USGS, like all civilian agencies, are under the gun to cut an already meager budget. Even my neighbor, DigitalGlobe, has over 50 openings right now. Those jobs require a security clearance.

My main concern is that I do research on socio-technology trends, like how user generated spatial data in systems like OpenStreetMap differ from spatial data from formalized collection methods at the USGS. It's hard to argue in favor of changing approaches used at the USGS without coming across as a strong support of WikiLeaks. It's possible to come across the wrong way.

I wrote a post on my own blog to clarify my position. Essentially, I believe that WikiLeaks is protected under the First Amendment (boo, Joe Lieberman). As any press outlet, once they have the information, they are protected in how they disseminate it. I believe WikiLeaks also tried really hard to work with the US Government to protect lives (but were ignored in their effort). I believe that WikiLeaks represents a significant change in how governments operate (fewer secrets). But I also believe the individual who leaked the information (in the case of the Iraq war diaries and the diplomatic cables) was not acting in the best conscience. Unlike the "Collateral Damage" video, which leaked information about a specific incident which seemed be handled unethically, these other leaks are too large to not have trampled on the ethical efforts of many dedicated, well-meaning civil servants.