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WikiLeaks Posts Credit Card and Social Security Numbers of Hundreds of Private Citizens

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Could you imagine if everyone knew your secrets? It could be freeing, but at the same time, could it also hurt people?

Anti-secrecy is the fundamental idea behind the infamous WikiLeaks website. At times, their radical belief in transparency has done a lot of good, as was the case when they posted the 2010 video “Collateral Murder” in which journalists, who had done nothing wrong, were shot to death by U.S. military. However, as is almost always the case, there is a flip-side.

As previously reported, WikiLeaks published almost 20,000 emails from DNC staffers this past Friday, which they announced with one very proud Tweet. One of the biggest issues about this is that WikiLeaks also posted unedited emails from DNC donors that included very sensitive information such as credit card, social security and even passport numbers, which can be easily accessed by conducting a basic Boolean search. For example, typing in “donation” gets hundreds of hits listing not only the personal information above, but also home and email addresses and home/cell phone numbers, as well.

Unfortunately, this publishing of innocent citizens’ private information is not a singular incident. Along with the “Collateral Murder” video, WikiLeaks also published approximately 77,000 classified military documents that included the names of civilian Afghan citizens. Amnesty International, along with several other human rights’ groups, asked WikiLeaks to remove the names of the civilians, but to no avail.

I am actually torn on that topic. I do understand that WikiLeaks would probably feel hypocritical if they were to delete or encrypt any of the data. However, do they believe in a country that allows citizens their privacy but in which the government is fully transparent? If, in fact, they believe that citizens should be as transparent as the government itself, then the posting of Edward Snowden’s NSA documents would also be hypocritical in and of itself, as the big governmental secret is that no citizens actually experiences privacy.

If, however, they believe in the US residents’ right to privacy, then it is actually hypocritical to publish citizens’ private information. They are not public servants and they had the right to believe that, if not their words, then their confidential information would stay confidential.

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.