Treatment of WikiLeaker Manning doesn't bode well for corporate IT

Paranoia could turn IT from an enabler to a witch hunter

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"[My son] still believes in the ideals he thought he was fighting for and so to think that the Marine Corps brig at Quantico violates those ideals by torturing a 23 year old Army private, said to stand barely 5’5″ tall is an affront to every warrior who ever put themselves in harms way believing in the US Constitution," he wrote.

The highest-profile critique came from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who had to resign after saying at an MIT seminar that Bradley's treatment was "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid."

Like most of the WikiLeaks scandals this one, especially because it involves incarceration rather than just firing someone, seems irrelevant to most corporate IT issues.

It's not.

There are very specific laws, corporate policies on behavior and commonly accepted standards of ethical behavior designed to prevent the kind of revelations Manning is alleged to have made.

That doesn't mean they don't happen anyway, or that people can become so oversensitive to them that they react to every infraction as if they're dealing with al-Qaeda, rather than some admin who forwarded some gossip to a friend.

Regulations like HIPAA make everyone sensitive to private data and the potential for litigation for violating it.

Cases like Manning's and anything involving WikiLeaks turn up the heat on it, often to the point that there's not a practical way to prevent what amounts to a witch hunt when some executive gets ticked off when a personally important but relatively harmless bit of corporate data shows up in the press or on some industry forum.

It happens every day, and IT is often the mechanism used to track down and convict the perpetrator, even when the crime isn't worth the time to investigate or punishment meted out.

There are absolutely situations in which breaches of data that leave the company open to lawsuits, damage to its competitiveness and fines for inadequately securing regulated data.

Most don't rise to that level.

The legality behind whether a particular situation does or doesn't merit aggressive prosecution far from clear.

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