Leaking of official secrets
Leak of military data
Premature disclosure of government reports
Disclosure of information from intelligence operations
Defamation by disclosure of secret government files
Leakage of restricted government information can impair state security, hinder development and weaken government policies, whether it is leaked to a foreign power, to the public via the press or other media, or to private business interests. Leakage may arise out of inefficient security measures or from complicity of those with a legitimate access. Journalists are often "leaked" documents to ensure timely coverage in the press. A leakage of official secrets to a foreign power may go undiscovered for a comparatively long time if complicity is involved and if knowledge of the information is not sufficiently distributed for supervision to be effective. Leakage of industrial secrets can affect whole populations in several countries for generations.
In order to protect the state's economic power, foreign security and defence capabilities, it is the duty of every citizen who has access to classified information to keep such information secret, and this for the public good.
Only a small proportion of leaks, usually involving genuine national defence secrets, are truly deplorable. The rest are harmless or positively desirable. Leaks can be used by low-level employees to make facts public that are being suppressed by their superiors. Frequently, leakage of official secrets serves to expose abuses and unconstitutional activities. As for political effects, only incumbents are worried about leakages, which often actually promote public understanding and democracy.