We have no sympathy for all the governments who are complaining about WikiLeaks publishing the nasty things they said about each other. It is a lesson most of us learn – or should learn – as children: if you talk about others behind their backs, you have only yourself to blame if what you say gets back to them.
Our sympathy is reserved for the founder of WikiLeaks who just happens to find himself at the top of Interpol’s most wanted list on the very day he offends the world political Establishment. Needless to say, the charges against him do not refer to that but to previously dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct – as any expert will tell you smears work best with a hint of sex.
An international arrest warrant was issued with astonishing speed. A small business which has suffered from cross-border fraud should not expect that level of service. Once again, it is one law for powerful governments and another law for the rest of us. The problem, bad enough at local and national level, is even worse at international level.
Meanwhile, there is a clear lesson that applies doubly to those of us without influence in the global Establishment...
No matter how expensive your security system, if you write secrets down and store them on computer, you must be prepared for the possibility that they will get out. E-mail has made it too easy to circulate sensitive documents, and therefore it has become more likely that they will end up, deliberately or accidently, in unauthorised hands.
It is at best futile, at worst counter-productive, to rely on nagging employees to limit the circulation of e-mails, or on investigations after the fact to limit leaks. Generating an atmosphere of distrust only makes leaks more likely.
The only safe option is to assume that anything that is written down will one day be read, and not to write anything down unless it is absolutely necessary and you are ready to live with the consequences.
Paranoia has become compulsory.