Cablegate: When openness and privacy collide

Julian Assange's decision to release 251,000 US State Department may have struck a blow for transparency, but it caused serious damage to personal privacy -- and put lives at risk.

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Think of your relationships with your significant others or your family. Now think how your relationships would be if every single thing that crossed your mind during each day was known to your partner (siblings, parents, children). Maybe the relationships would be stronger; maybe 100 percent transparency is a good thing. Maybe if you strapped wings and a propeller to a swine it would win the Red Bull Air Race. But I very much doubt it.

No dear, that dress does not make you look fat – why would anyone think that?

You’re just as handsome (funny, charming) as they day I met you; and that bald spot? Sexy as hell.

Of course I never did any of those things when I was your age, and you shouldn’t either.

And so on. Complete transparency is highly overrated, in my humble opinion. Your mileage may vary.

So the leaks that former Libyan strongman Muammar Ghadafy had a voluptuous Ukranian nurse or that the president of Argentina is apparently off her rocker were interesting in a gossipy way, but they weren’t really newsworthy. Yet WikiLeaks felt no qualms about publishing that information.

Also not newsworthy but much more dangerous: revealing the names of political dissidents, confidential informants, and other anti-government sources who thought they were protected – and now are not.

We will likely never know if bad things happen to these people. The secret police in most countries don’t generally issue press releases, and it’s hard to tweet from a prison cell -- or a grave. So much for 100 percent transparency.

Their blood would be on Assange’s hands. But don’t expect him to admit that.

ITworld TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan’s probably won’t be going to high tea at Julian Assange’s house any time soon. Visit his eHumor site eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech.

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