The organization is known for exposing government secrets, such as its recent findings indicating the Democratic National Committee sabotaged Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
With this new discovery; however, it seems WikiLeaks is crossing the line into invading the privacy of innocent and vulnerable civilians.
"They published everything: my phone, address, name, details," an unnamed Saudi man reportedly told the AP. WikiLeaks had revealed all the details of a paternity dispute he had with a former partner. "If the family of my wife saw this ... Publishing personal stuff like that could destroy people."
According to the AP, hundreds of medical files and financial records of civilians were published within the last year, including those of teen sexual-assault survivors.
WikiLeaks has said its mission is to make public any material “involving war, spying, and corruption;” however, as Dr. Nayed al-Fayez noted — the publishing of people’s private information “has nothing to do with politics or corruption.”
Dr. al-Fayez said the group published the private data of one of his patients who has brain cancer.
Aside from this being a huge breach of privacy, it also creates a cesspool for criminals to steal identities and exploit innocent people.
Paul Dietrich, a transparency activist, said a partial scan of the Saudi cables alone turned up more than 500 passport, identity, academic or employment files, according to the AP.
Back in 2010, WikiLeaks’ Editor in Chief Julian Assange claimed that the organization has a “harm-minimization policy” in place to prevent these situations from occurring, and yet here we are left highly doubting the effectiveness of that policy.
WikiLeaks responded to the AP’s allegations via Twitter. The organization referred to the report as “ridiculous” and accused them of re-running a story from 2015.
Regardless of whether this story is “old news,” WikiLeaks failed to confirm or deny if they are still publishing civilian information.
If this was first exposed in 2015 and nothing has changed, then the AP’s story still holds weight and WikiLeaks should be held accountable for failing to protect innocent civilians.
While the organization’s stated mission is respectable enough, if they cannot execute their transparency efforts without violating the privacy of others, then whatever good intentions they may have are null and void.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Peter Nicholls