AI News, Machine-Learning Algorithm Can Show Whether State Secrets Are Properly Classified

Machine-Learning Algorithm Can Show Whether State Secrets Are Properly Classified

What’s more, it’s easy to imagine that human error plays a considerable role in the misclassification of official secrets.

Their work provides an unprecedented insight into the nature of official secrets, how humans apply the rules, and how often errors creep into the process to reveal sensitive information or hide otherwise innocuous details.

The cables are labelled as “secret,” “confidential,” “limited official use,” or as “unclassified.” Secret information is defined as having the potential to seriously damage national security, confidential information is defined as having the potential to cause damage but not serious damage.

The sender and recipient data is also a good indicator of the level of sensitivity but can lead the algorithm to classify many cables that were not classified as ones that were.

When the machine-learning algorithm combines the various kinds of metadata in its decisions, it can spot some 90 percent of cables that are classified, with a false positive rate of just 11 percent.

Also, if the messages were lost when they were converted from one format to another, they would be most likely to go missing when the State Department set up its new data storage system.

“It’s notable that most of these [missing] cables do not date to when the State Department first set up the system, when one might expect it would have been troubleshooting ways to reliably transfer data between different hardware and software platforms,” say the team.

But an interesting question is whether the data that this kind of machine learning reveals should itself be classified if it reveals patterns of behavior that could be damaging to the national interest.

For example, the rate at which confidential information is erroneously labeled as unclassified could be useful for a foreign power attempting to gather classified information from unclassified cables.

Souza and co say that despite the State Department’s huge spending on protecting classified information, there is little or no published research on the consistency of classification.

United States diplomatic cables leak

when WikiLeaks—a non-profit organization that publishes submissions from anonymous whistleblowers—began releasing classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its consulates, embassies, and diplomatic missions around the world.

Dated between December 1966 and February 2010, the cables contain diplomatic analysis from world leaders, and the diplomats' assessment of host countries and their officials.[2]

According to WikiLeaks, the 251,287 cables consist of 261,276,536 words, making Cablegate 'the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain.'[3]

The first document, the so-called Reykjavik 13 cable, was released by WikiLeaks on 18 February 2010, and was followed by the release of State Department profiles of Icelandic politicians a month later.[4]

Later that year, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief, reached an agreement with media partners in Europe and the United States to publish the rest of the cables in redacted form, removing the names of sources and others in vulnerable positions.

This included WikiLeaks volunteers placing an encrypted file containing all WikiLeaks data online as 'insurance' in July 2010, in case something happened to the organization.[6]

The publication of the cables was the third in a series of U.S. classified document 'mega-leaks' distributed by WikiLeaks in 2010, following the Afghan War documents leak in July, and the Iraq War documents leak in October.

Over 130,000 of the cables are unclassified, some 100,000 are labeled 'confidential', around 15,000 have the higher classification 'secret', and none are classified as 'top secret' on the classification scale.[5]

Reaction to the release in September 2011 of the unredacted cables attracted stronger criticism, and was condemned by the five newspapers that had first published the cables in redacted form in November 2010.[9]

In June 2010, the magazine Wired reported that the U.S. State Department and embassy personnel were concerned that Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, a United States Army soldier charged with the unauthorized download of classified material while stationed in Iraq, had leaked diplomatic cables.

There might be more after that, including an immense bundle of confidential diplomatic cables', and Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian had contacted Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, to see if he would be interested in sharing the dissemination of the information.[12]

According to The Guardian, all the diplomatic cables were marked 'Sipdis', denoting 'secret internet protocol distribution', which means they had been distributed via the closed U.S. SIPRNet, the U.S. Department of Defense's classified version of the civilian internet.[14]

Such a large quantity of secret information was available to a wide audience because, as The Guardian alleged, after the 11 September attacks an increased focus had been placed on sharing information since gaps in intra-governmental information sharing had been exposed.[14]

More specifically, the diplomatic, military, law enforcement and intelligence communities would be able to do their jobs better with this easy access to analytic and operative information.[14]

On 26 November, Assange sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State, via his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, inviting them to 'privately nominate any specific instances (record numbers or names) where it considers the publication of information would put individual persons at significant risk of harm that has not already been addressed'.[22][23][24]

Assange responded by writing back to the U.S. State Department that 'you have chosen to respond in a manner which leads me to conclude that the supposed risks are entirely fanciful and you are instead concerned to suppress evidence of human rights abuse and other criminal behaviour'.[25][26]

The five newspapers that had obtained an advance copy of all leaked cables began releasing the cables on 28 November 2010, and WikiLeaks made the cables selected by these newspapers and redacted by their journalists available on its website.

The contents of the U.S. diplomatic cables leak describe in detail events and incidents surrounding international affairs from 274 embassies dating from 28 December 1966 to 28 February 2010.

The diplomatic cables revealed numerous unguarded comments and revelations: critiques and praises about the host countries of various U.S. embassies, discussion and resolutions towards ending ongoing tension in the Middle East, efforts for and resistance against nuclear disarmament, actions in the War on Terror, assessments of other threats around the world, dealings between various countries, U.S. intelligence and counterintelligence efforts, U.S. support of dictatorship and other diplomatic actions.

The leaked cables revealed that diplomats of the U.S. and Britain eavesdropped on Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, in apparent violation of international treaties prohibiting spying at the UN.[31]

due to its unflattering portrayal of the site's founder, but The Guardian decided to share coverage, citing earlier cooperation while covering the Afghan and Iraqi war logs.

saying there was an agreement between the newspapers for simultaneous publication of the 'internationally relevant' documents, but that each newspaper was free to select and treat those documents that primarily relate to its own country.[38]

NRC, a Dutch daily newspaper, and RTL Nieuws, a Dutch television news service, announced on 14 January 2011 that they had gained access to the about 3,000 cables sent from The Hague, via Aftenposten.[47]

It also remains unclear if during the transfer process the file was exposed publicly under the assumption that it is acceptable to transfer an encrypted file in plain sight so long as the key remains secret.[citation needed]

Their reasoning, according to Glenn Greenwald in Salon, was that government intelligence agencies were able to find and read the files, while ordinary people-including journalists, whistleblowers, and those directly affected-were not.

Leigh was criticized by several commentators, including Glenn Greenwald, who called the publication of the password 'reckless', arguing that, even if it had been a temporary one, publishing it divulged the type of passwords WikiLeaks was using.[7]

The naming of mainland China residents reportedly 'sparked an online witch-hunt by Chinese nationalist groups, with some advocating violence against those now known to have met with U.S. Embassy staff.'[76]

According to Arbor Networks, an Internet-analyst group, the DDoS attack accounted for between two and four gigabits per second (Gbit/s) of additional traffic to the WikiLeaks host network, compared to an average traffic of between twelve and fifteen Gbit/s under ordinary conditions.[79]

reported that the Obama administration has warned federal government employees and students in educational institutions studying towards careers in public service that they must refrain from downloading or linking to any WikiLeaks documents.

spokesman for Columbia University confirmed on 4 December that its Office of Career Services sent an e-mail warning students at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs to refrain from accessing WikiLeaks cables and discussing this subject on the grounds that 'discourse about the documents would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information'.[96]

SIPA Dean John Henry Coatsworth wrote that 'Freedom of information and expression is a core value of our institution, [...] thus, SIPA's position is that students have a right to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences.'[97]

On 9 December 2010, major Pakistani newspapers (such as The News International, The Express Tribune and the Daily Jang) and television channels carried stories that claimed to detail U.S. diplomats' assessments of senior Indian generals as 'vain, egotistical and genocidal', also saying 'India's government is secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists', and that 'Indian spies are covertly supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal belt and Balochistan.'[107]

Edward Snowden: Leaks that exposed US spy programme

Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the CIA, left the US in late May after leaking to the media details of extensive internet and phone surveillance by American intelligence.

The paper published the secret court order directing telecommunications company Verizon to hand over all its telephone data to the NSA on an 'ongoing daily basis'.

That report was followed by revelations in both the Washington Post and Guardian that the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, to track online communication in a surveillance programme known as Prism.

He has been charged in the US with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.

The GCHQ scandal widened on 21 June when the Guardian reported that the UK spy agency was tapping fibre-optic cables that carry global communications and sharing vast amounts of data with the NSA, its US counterpart.

GCHQ was able to boast a larger collection of data than the US, tapping into 200 fibre-optic cables to give it the ability to monitor up to 600 million communications every day, according to the report.

'We hack network backbones - like huge internet routers, basically - that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,' Mr Snowden was quoted as saying.

The file allegedly detailed 'an extraordinary range' of spying methods used to intercept messages, including bugs, specialised antennae and wire taps.

The paper cited leaked documents showing that, at least until 2002, the NSA ran the operation from a base in Brasilia, seizing web traffic and details of phone calls from around the region.

US agents apparently joined forces with Brazilian telecoms firms to snoop on oil and energy firms, foreign visitors to Brazil, and major players in Mexico's drug wars.

The papers revealed that US citizens were inadvertently snooped on for reasons including typing mistakes and errors in the system, In one instance in 2008, a 'large number' of calls placed from Washington DC were intercepted after an error in a computer program entered '202' - the telephone area code for Washington DC - into a data query instead of '20', the country code for Egypt.

In January 2014, the Guardian newspaper and Channel 4 News reported that the US had collected and stored almost 200 million text messages per day across the globe.

The programme, Dishfire, analyses SMS messages to extract information including contacts from missed call alerts, location from roaming and travel alerts, financial information from bank alerts and payments and names from electronic business cards, according to the report.


WikiLeaks (/ˈwɪkiliːks/) is an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks,[5]

The latter allowed the mapping of 109,032 deaths in 'significant' attacks by insurgents in Iraq that had been reported to Multi-National Force – Iraq, including about 15,000 that had not been previously published.[12][13]

In private conversations from November 2015 that were later leaked, Julian Assange expressed a preference for a GOP victory in the 2016 election, explaining that 'Dems+Media+liberals woudl [sic] then form a block to reign [sic] in their worst qualities.

In secret correspondence with the Trump campaign on election day (8 November 2016), WikiLeaks encouraged the Trump campaign to contest the election results in case they lost.[22]

WikiLeaks has, for instance, revealed Social Security numbers, medical information, credit card numbers, details of suicide attempts, and other sensitive personal information.[25][26][27][28]

WikiLeaks is usually represented in public by Julian Assange, who has been described as 'the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier, and all the rest'.[31][32]

One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.'

The online 'drop box' is described by the WikiLeaks website as 'an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to [WikiLeaks] journalists'.[43]

For example, in a 2013 resolution, the International Federation of Journalists, a trade union of journalists, called WikiLeaks a 'new breed of media organisation' that 'offers important opportunities for media organisations'.[44]

Noting Assange's statements that he and his colleagues read only a small fraction of information before deciding to publish it, Abrams writes: 'No journalistic entity I have ever heard of—none—simply releases to the world an elephantine amount of material it has not read.'[48]

According to a January 2010 interview, the WikiLeaks team then consisted of five people working full-time and about 800 people who worked occasionally, none of whom were compensated.[49]

The website is available on multiple servers, different domain names and has an official Darkweb version (available on the Tor Network) as a result of a number of denial-of-service attacks and its elimination from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers.[54][55]

Furthermore, 'WikiLeaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information.'

that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.' It's clear that WikiLeaks doesn't own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content.'[63]

While the court in Lille immediately refused to force OVH to deactivate the WikiLeaks website, the court in Paris stated it would need more time to examine the complex technical issue.[65][66]

Despite that, EasyDNS (upon request of a customer who was setting up new WikiLeaks hosting) began providing WikiLeaks with DNS service on 'two 'battle hardened' servers' to protect the quality of service for its other customers.[67]

However, WikiLeaks established an editorial policy that accepted only documents that were 'of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest' (and excluded 'material that is already publicly available').[70]

This coincided with early criticism that having no editorial policy would drive out good material with spam and promote 'automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records'.[71]

Vopper) have established previously that the American Constitution protects the re-publication of illegally gained information provided the publishers did not themselves violate any laws in acquiring it.[80]

Federal prosecutors have also considered prosecuting Assange for trafficking in stolen government property, but since the diplomatic cables are intellectual rather than physical property, that method is also difficult.[81]

On threats by various governments towards Julian Assange, legal expert Ben Saul argues that Assange is the target of a global smear campaign to demonise him as a criminal or as a terrorist, without any legal basis.[88][89]

The Chagos islanders argued that the document showed the UK's motive for setting up a marine park on their territory was improper, but it had been excluded from proceedings earlier in the case.[93]

WikiLeaks saw this as a kind of work stoppage 'to ensure that everyone who is involved stops normal work and actually spends time raising revenue'.[49]

He also noted that every new WikiLeaks publication brought 'a wave of support', and that donations were strongest in the weeks after WikiLeaks started publishing leaked diplomatic cables.[103][104]

In February 2008, WikiLeaks released allegations of illegal activities at the Cayman Islands branch of the Swiss Bank Julius Baer, which resulted in the bank suing WikiLeaks and obtaining an injunction which temporarily suspended the operation of[110]

The California judge had the service provider of WikiLeaks block the site's domain ( on 18 February 2008, although the bank only wanted the documents to be removed but WikiLeaks had failed to name a contact.

The website was instantly mirrored by supporters, and later that month the judge overturned his previous decision citing First Amendment concerns and questions about legal jurisdiction.[111][112]

In March 2008, WikiLeaks published what they referred to as 'the collected secret 'bibles' of Scientology', and three days later received letters threatening to sue them for breach of copyright.[113]

In September 2008, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaigns, the contents of a Yahoo account belonging to Sarah Palin (the running mate of Republican presidential nominee John McCain) were posted on WikiLeaks after being hacked into by members of a group known as Anonymous.[114][115]

Later that month, it announced that a super-injunction was being used by the commodities company Trafigura to stop The Guardian (London) from reporting on a leaked internal document regarding a toxic dumping incident in Côte d'Ivoire.[128][129]

These were originally created to prevent access to child pornography and terrorism, but the leaks revealed that other sites featuring unrelated subjects were also listed.[135][136][137]

In April, a classified video of the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike was released, showing two Reuters employees being fired at, after the pilots mistakenly thought the men were carrying weapons, which were in fact cameras.[142]

WikiLeaks asked the Pentagon and human-rights groups to help remove names from the documents to reduce the potential harm caused by their release, but did not receive assistance.[147]

On 20 August 2010, WikiLeaks released a publication entitled Loveparade 2010 Duisburg planning documents, 2007–2010, which comprised 43 internal documents regarding the Love Parade 2010.[149][150]

Media coverage of the leaked documents emphasised claims that the US government had ignored reports of torture by the Iraqi authorities during the period after the 2003 war.[151]

After the first few days' release of the US diplomatic cables starting 28 November 2010, the US television broadcasting company CBS predicted that 'If anything happens to Assange or the website, a key will go out to unlock the files.

On 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and five major newspapers from Spain (El País), France (Le Monde), Germany (Der Spiegel), the United Kingdom (The Guardian), and the United States (The New York Times) started simultaneously to publish the first 220 of 251,287 leaked documents labelled confidential – but not top-secret – and dated from 28 December 1966 to 28 February 2010.[156][157]

The contents of the diplomatic cables include numerous unguarded comments and revelations regarding: critiques and praises about the host countries of various United States embassies;

On 1 September 2011, it became public that an encrypted version of WikiLeaks' huge archive of unredacted US State Department cables had been available via BitTorrent for months and that the decryption key (similar to a password) was available to those who knew where to find it.[163][164]

Rather than let malicious actors publish selected data, WikiLeaks decided to publish the entire, unredacted archive in searchable form on its website.[citation needed]

Scott Shane of The New York Times stated that the WikiLeaks involvement 'shows that despite its shoestring staff, limited fund-raising from a boycott by major financial firms, and defections prompted by Mr. Assange's personal troubles and abrasive style, it remains a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.'[171]

The documents revealed that United States espionage against Japan concerned broad sections of communications about the US-Japan diplomatic relationship and Japan's position on climate change issues, other than an extensive monitoring of the Japanese economy.[182]

The link contained 1258 emails sent from Clinton's personal mail server which were selected in terms of their relevance to the Iraq War and were apparently timed to precede the release of the UK government's Iraq Inquiry report.[185]

According to WikiLeaks, the material, which they claim to be the first batch from the 'AKP Emails', was obtained a week before the attempted coup in the country and 'is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state'.[188]

WikiLeaks had also tweeted a link to a database which contained sensitive information, such as the Turkish Identification Number, of approximately 50 million Turkish citizens, including nearly every female voter in Turkey.[193]

On 7 October 2016, WikiLeaks started releasing series of emails and documents sent from or received by Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, including Hillary Clinton's paid speeches to banks.[202][203][204][205]

According to a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, 'By dribbling these out every day WikiLeaks is proving they are nothing but a propaganda arm of the Kremlin with a political agenda doing Vladimir Putin's dirty work to help elect Donald Trump.'[206]

The Ecuadorian government stated that it had 'temporarily' severed Assange's Internet connection because of WikiLeaks' release of documents 'impacting on the U.S. election campaign,' although it also stated that this was not meant to prevent WikiLeaks from operating.[210]

In a series of tweets and a Facebook Live + Periscope press conference, WikiLeaks announced these documents contain CIA internal documentation of their 'massive arsenal' of hacking tools including malware, viruses trojects, weaponised 'zero day' exploits and remote control systems to name a few.[215][216][217]

Leaked documents, dated from 2013–2016, detail the capabilities of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare, such as the ability to compromise cars, smart TVs,[217]

Experts have asserted that the WikiLeaks Twitter account played a key role in publicising the leaks through the hashtag #MacronLeaks just some three-and-a-half hours after the first tweet with hashtag appeared.[224][225]

France's Electoral Commission urged journalists not to report on the contents of the leaks, but to heed 'the sense of responsibility they must demonstrate, as at stake are the free expression of voters and the sincerity of the election'.[226]

In September 2017, WikiLeaks released 'Spy Files Russia,' revealing 'how a St. Petersburg-based technology company called Peter-Service helped state entities gather detailed data on Russian cellphone users, part of a national system of online surveillance called System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM).'[231]

In January 2011, Rudolf Elmer, a former Swiss banker, passed data containing account details of 2,000 prominent people to Assange, who stated that the information will be vetted before being made publicly available at a later date.[232]

and that they were 'getting enormous quantity of whistle-blower disclosures of a very high calibre' but added that they had not been able to verify and release the material because they did not have enough volunteer journalists.[236]

In 2010, he told Forbes magazine that WikiLeaks was planning another 'megaleak' early in 2011, from the private sector, involving 'a big U.S. bank' and revealing an 'ecosystem of corruption'.

According to statements by Assange in 2010, submitted documents are vetted by a group of five reviewers, with expertise in different topics such as language or programming, who also investigate the background of the leaker if his or her identity is known.[248]

(Writer Glenn Greenwald goes further, asserting that WikiLeaks has a 'perfect, long-standing record of only publishing authentic documents.'[250]) However, cybersecurity experts agree that it is trivially easy for a person to fabricate an email or alter it, as by changing headers and metadata.[249]

In July 2016, the Aspen Institute's Homeland Security Group, a bipartisan counterterrorism organisation, warned that hackers who stole authentic data might 'salt the files they release with plausible forgeries.'[249]

WikiLeaks fuelled the conspiracy theories by offering a reward of $20,000 for information leading to the capture of Rich's killer and hinting that Rich may have been the source of the leaked emails.[257]

The executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, an organization that advocates for open government, was critical of WikiLeaks' fueling of conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of Seth Rich: 'If they feel like they have a link to the staffer's death, they should say it and be responsible about it.

Short of simply disclosing information in the public interest, WikiLeaks has been accused of purposely targeting certain states and people, and presenting its disclosures in misleading and conspiratorial ways to harm those people.[261]

Having released information that exposed the inner working of a broad range of organisations and politicians, WikiLeaks started by 2016 to focus almost exclusively on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.[273]

The Washington Post noted that the leaks came at an important sensitive moment in the Clinton campaign, as she was preparing to announce her vice-presidential pick and unite the party behind her.[275]

The Sunlight Foundation, an organisation that advocates for open government, said that such actions meant that WikiLeaks was no longer striving to be transparent but rather sought to achieve political goals: 'It's become something else.

During distracting media events such as the Olympics or a high profile election, unrelated publications are sometimes delayed until the distraction passes but never are rejected for this reason.'[273]

On 7 October 2016, an hour after the media had begun to dedicate wall-to-wall coverage of the revelation that Trump had bragged on video about sexually harassing women, WikiLeaks began to release emails hacked from the personal account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.[276][277]

for one or more of his father's tax returns, explaining that it would be in his father's best interest because it would 'dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality' and not come 'through the most biased source (e.g.

In October 2016, the US intelligence community announced that it was 'confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations'.[17]

In September 2016, the German weekly magazine Focus reported that according to a confidential German government dossier, WikiLeaks had long since been infiltrated by Russian agents aiming to discredit NATO governments.

On 10 December 2016, several news outlets, including The Guardian and The Washington Post, reported that the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Russia intelligence operatives provided materials to WikiLeaks in an effort to help Donald Trump's election bid.

The Washington Post article stated: 'The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.'[286]

Flynn resigned in February 2017 due to reports over his communications with Russian officials and subsequent lies over the content and nature of those communications, WikiLeaks tweeted that Flynn resigned 'after destabilization campaign by U.S. spies, Democrats, press.'[292][293]

In April 2017, the WikiLeaks Twitter account suggested that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, which international human rights organisations and governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, and Israel attributed to the Syrian government, was a false flag attack.[294]

WikiLeaks stated that 'while western establishment media beat the drum for more war in Syria the matter is far from clear', and shared a video by a Syrian activist who claimed that Islamist extremists were probably behind the chemical attack, not the Syrian government.[294]

In May 2017, cybersecurity experts stated that they believed that groups affiliated with the Russian government were involved in the hacking and leaking of e-mails associated with the Emmanuel Macron campaign;

Whereas news outlets had reported on some contents of the leaks in 2014, the information that news outlets reported on was less than half of the data that was made available to WikiLeaks in the summer of 2016.[273]

In October 2017, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a company working on behalf of the Trump presidential campaign, had contacted WikiLeaks about missing Hillary Clinton e-mails and the possibility of creating a searchable database for the campaign to use.[298][299]

In July 2016, WikiLeaks suggested that triple parentheses, or (((echoes))) – a tool used by neo-Nazis to identify Jews on Twitter, appropriated by Jews across the Twittersphere – had been used as a way for 'establishment climbers' to identify one another.[302][304]

According to Tufekci, there are three steps to WikiLeaks' 'disinformation campaigns': 'The first step is to dump many documents at once — rather than allowing journalists to scrutinise them and absorb their significance before publication.

An analysis by the Associated Press found that WikiLeaks had in one of its mass-disclosures published 'the personal information of hundreds of people – including sick children, rape victims and mental health patients'.[26]

three dozen records pertaining to family issues in the cables – including messages about marriages, divorces, missing children, elopements and custody battles.

He noted that the willingness of WikiLeaks to publish information of this type encourages hacking and cybertheft: 'With ready and willing amplifiers, what's to deter the next cyberthief from stealing a company's database of information and threatening to send it to Wikileaks if a list of demands aren't met?'[310]

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for open government, has criticised WikiLeaks for inadequate curation of its content and for 'weaponised transparency,' writing that with the DNC leaks, 'Wikileaks again failed the due diligence review we expect of putatively journalistic entities when it published the personal information of ordinary citizens, including passport and Social Security numbers contained in the hacked emails of Democratic National Committee staff.

The manner in which WikiLeaks publishes content can have the effect of censoring political enemies: 'Wikileaks' indiscriminate disclosure in this case is perhaps the closest we've seen in reality to the bogeyman projected by enemies to reform — that transparency is just a Trojan Horse for chilling speech and silencing political enemies.'[312]

University of North Carolina Professor Zeynep Tufekci has criticised WikiLeaks for exposing sensitive personal information: 'WikiLeaks, for example, gleefully tweeted to its millions of followers that a Clinton Foundation employee had attempted suicide ...

Data dumps by WikiLeaks have outed rape victims and gay people in Saudi Arabia, private citizens' emails and personal information in Turkey, and the voice mail messages of Democratic National Committee staff members.'[28]

She argues these data dumps which violate personal privacy without being in the public interest 'threaten our ability to dissent by destroying privacy and unleashing a glut of questionable information that functions, somewhat unexpectedly, as its own form of censorship, rather than as a way to illuminate the maneuverings of the powerful.'[28]

proposed the creation of a database to track verified Twitter users, including sensitive personal information on individuals' homes, families and finances.[314][313][315]

According to the Chicago Tribune, 'the proposal faced a sharp and swift backlash as technologists, journalists and security researchers slammed the idea as a 'sinister' and dangerous abuse of power and privacy.'[314]

Another vision of his was to focus on providing technology that allowed whistle-blowers to protect their identity as well as a more transparent way of communicating with the media, forming new partnerships and involving new people.[321]

including information on the US government's 'no-fly list' and inside information from 20 right-wing organisations, and according to a WikiLeaks statement, 5 gigabytes of data relating to Bank of America, the internal communications of 20 neo-Nazi organisations and US intercept information for 'over a hundred Internet companies'.[324]

Those working for WikiLeaks are reportedly required to sign sweeping non-disclosure agreements covering all conversations, conduct, and material, with Assange having sole power over disclosure.[329]

WikiLeaks has been challenged for this practice, as it seen to be hypocritical for an organisation dedicated to transparency to limit the transparency of its inner workings and limit the accountability of powerful individuals in the organisation.[329][330][331]

On April 20, 2018, the Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan against Russia, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, alleging a conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 United States presidential election in Trump's favor.[332]

Sympathisers of WikiLeaks in the media and academia commended it during its early years for exposing state and corporate secrets, increasing transparency, assisting freedom of the press, and enhancing democratic discourse while challenging powerful institutions.[342][343][344][345][346][347][348]

At the same time, several US government officials have criticised WikiLeaks for exposing classified information and claimed that the leaks harm national security and compromise international diplomacy.[356][357][358][359][360]

Several human rights organisations requested with respect to earlier document releases that WikiLeaks adequately redact the names of civilians working with international forces, to prevent repercussions.[361]

In 2016, Harvard law professor and Electronic Frontier Foundation board member Jonathan Zittrain argued that a culture in which one constantly risks being 'outed' as a result of virtual Watergate-like break-ins (or violations of the Fourth Amendment) could lead people to hesitate to speak their minds.[363]

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This video clip is part of the first day of news coverage following the release of cablegate by Wikileaks, Der Spegigel, Guardian, New York Times and many other ...

cnn - summarizing the wikileaks cables.flv

This video clip is part of day 8 of news coverage following the release of cablegate by Wikileaks, Der Spegigel, Guardian, New York Times and many other news ...