Are Wikileaks’ Info Dumps Potentially Ruining Lives?

The names of teenage rape victims are among the many privacy violations in Wikileaks' library

Julian Assange is a self-satisfied man — Photo: Getty
Aug 23, 2016 at 10:39 AM ET

WikiLeaks founder and unintentional Ecuadorian embassy house guest Julian Assange’s Quest For The Truth has exposed private information about hundreds of innocent people, some of it potentially dangerous to their health and safety.

According to reporting from the Associated Press, WikiLeaks published sensitive information like medical records, social security numbers, and credit card numbers. Two teenage rape victims were named, marital certificates with the bride’s virginity status were published (from Saudi Arabia, obviously), a man’s arrest for alleged homosexual activity was revealed, and people’s dire financial affairs were made public.

Many of these reports came from the leaked Saudi diplomatic cables, which WikiLeaks published over a year ago — and which the same AP reporter wrote about at the time, including privacy breaches. Though Assange did not comment for the newest story, he seems unrepentant about its findings.

Assange’s point here is that the private information WikiLeaks exposed has been up for a while now, but the AP didn’t seem to care about that until Wikileaks started publishing things that could be potentially damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign. But that’s not entirely true, as the more recent Democratic National Committee email hacks (and the credit card and social security numbers that were exposed in them) and the Turkish ruling party email leak are also cited in the current report.

Also new: The AP spoke with some people whose information was exposed, many of which didn’t seem to know their records were out there until now because WikiLeaks is censored in Saudi Arabia — and were devastated when they found out their secrets were out there for anyone to see. The older report, by contrast, focused on the foreign diplomats who tried to smuggle alcohol and pork into the country and the exposure of Clinton’s passport information.