Defending the old order

Writing for The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf last week wrote "What 'Stop the Leaks' Hardliners Don't Realize: They Can't and Won't Ever Win". Friedersdorf argues that the current and ongoing focus on "stopping" leaks is foolhardy:

What "stop the leaks" hardliners crowd will accomplish, if they succeed in making undetected leaks to journalists difficult enough, isn't stopping government employees from revealing classified information. So long as there are public servants who believe certain information ought to be made public, or who'd benefit in some way from making it public, leaks will persist. But the method of leaking will change. Rather than passing information to a well-sourced national security journalist at a mainstream news outlet, leakers will get their nuggets to Wikileaks, or Anonymous, or another transparency-inclined group that, for better or worse, won't solicit comment from the White House or delay publication until the sensitive operation is complete.

This perspective parallels what I've been writing about piracy and trying to keep national secrets. We have an opportunity to rething how we do publishing, much as we have an opportunity to rethink how we manage secrets in a government built on a notion of transparency. Neither effort gains when we try too hard to defend the old order.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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