Protecting Sensitive Information: The Virtue of Self-Restraint
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An abundance of information that could be useful to terrorists is available in the open literature. This information, unclassified but nonetheless sensitive, includes risk assessments that identify infrastructure vulnerabilities, analyses that hypothesize creative attacks, and otherwise dangerous knowledge that is released under the rubric of scientific openness or the public'۪s ''right to know". Attempts to manage this information more responsibly have been resisted in part due to the misconception that such efforts would require formal, draconian restrictions on speech. However, greater discipline in the dissemination of sensitive information can be introduced without compromising the nation'۪s values. In particularly sensitive areas, scientists, journalists, and members of the general public should embrace voluntary self-restraint as a civic duty. Further, both government entities and journalists should avoid calling attention to sensitive information in ways that compound rather than reduce the potential harm it represents.
This article appeared in Homeland Security Affairs (May 2011), v.7
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