Wikileaks reveals private information, including medical records, of hundreds of people

In addition to releasing files stolen from the DNC by Russian hackers, WikiLeaks has been carelessly releasing people’s personal information including medical records and credit card numbers that have nothing to do with politics. From the Associated Press:

In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality is punishable by death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom…

The DNC files published last month carried more than two dozen Social Security and credit card numbers, according to an AP analysis assisted by New Hampshire-based compliance firm DataGravity. Two of the people named in the files told AP they were targeted by identity thieves following the leak, including a retired U.S. diplomat who said he also had to change his number after being bombarded by threatening messages.

The number of people affected easily reaches into the hundreds. 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.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has claimed in the past that private medical files are legitimate secrets that his group has no intention to expose. Clearly that goal was thrown out when Assange was in a hurry to produce a scoop. What possible justification can there be for revealing people’s credit card numbers?

It’s also telling that Julian Assange won’t respond to legitimate inquiries from the Associated Press. This story points to an obvious flaw in his methods. Why won’t he defend his decisions or at least try to explain them? The AP story notes, “Attempts to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were unsuccessful; a set of questions left with his site wasn’t immediately answered Tuesday.”

If a legitimate media organization published people’s private medical records and credit card numbers it would likely be sued. Unlike some of the other material WikiLeaks publishes, it would be hard to for WikiLeaks’ attorneys to argue this personal information has any compelling news value.