WikiLeaks is at it again, releasing a trove of diplomatic cables that the organization claims will reveal "lying, corrupt and murderous leaderships from Bahrain to Brazil." Governments and news outlets around the world are scurrying to pore over the once-secret documents for important revelations.
WikiLeaks has been criticized before for revealing sensitive information. For example, the organization published thousands of reports about the Iraq War. Though much of the information was already known in broad terms, many of the specifics were not. WikiLeaks also released classified U.S. military footage from an attack in July 2007 in Baghdad by a U.S. helicopter that killed a dozen people including two journalists. For these leaks and others, many have praised the organization. But what are the ethics behind revealing secrets?
Despite what conspiracy theorists may think, secrecy is not an inherently bad thing; in fact, it usually keeps us safe. We keep our bank accounts, ATM and Social Security numbers a secret because revealing them could put our finances at risk. We may choose to keep personal information from other people, not to be deceptive but simply because it's none of their business. Similarly, revealing state secrets could put national security at risk or may just fall into the category of "too much information."