Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Information from hacking scandals

This is Joseph.

I assume everyone has read Nate Silver's take on the Comey letter by now.

In that context, Josh Marshall has a very good set of points as to how information leaks hurt the recent US presidential election:
Second: The FBI Director broke all precedent and DOJ guidelines to announce a criminal investigation into what proved to be the losing candidate just over a week before the election. There was little reason to believe the purported new evidence would lead to any criminal charges or indeed even any substantial new evidence. And it turned out that the ‘investigation’ was based on nothing. The entire blow up turned out to be based on nothing and knowing what we know now about what investigators and Comey knew at the time suggest he had little reason to think there was anything there.
Third: A rival foreign power ransacked the computer files and email logs of the losing candidate and strategically leaked them out over the final months of the campaign with the intention and the effect of distracting and damaging what proved to be the losing candidate.
Now look at France and their episode of hacking.

This suggests to me that we need to move past the nice but naive idea that leaks can ever be non-political.  The idea of more information always being good isn't false, but we need to acknowledge that a selective information leak affecting one party is a very partisan act.  It isn't like we saw the emails and logs of both sides being released so that people could use "behind the scenes" information to make a more informed electoral choice.

Instead, the decision to hack or leak data should always be filtered via a question of what is the agenda of the person(s) who are releasing this data.

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