WikiLeaks is a digital media organization that also maintains a large, online library of leaked documents. Founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, the organization has so far published more than 10 million documents. Most of these documents have contained information that the associated countries and businesses would have preferred was never exposed to the light of day.

WikiLeaks has won many awards for its efforts over the past 10 years. Despite the fact that WikiLeaks is widely respected by those who value transparency in government, the organization also has critics outside of the governments that it has shamed. Now, some people think that WikiLeaks may have too many leaks.

The leaked documents that have recently  been raising a lot of concern involve Saudi Arabia. While journalists have been reviewing these documents, work has been slow because many of the documents are in Arabic. Over the past year, WikiLeaks has published hundreds of documents that have included personal and private information about Saudi Arabian citizens. While some of the documents contained personal financial or medical records, others named teen rape victims, victims of abuse by domestic employers, and a man who had been accused of being gay.

The Saudi Arabian government does not understand the concept of LGBT rights or, for that matter, a lot of other rights that people in more progressive countries assume we should all enjoy. In fact, many people consider Saudi Arabia to be one of the most oppressive countries in the world. It has a long and continuing history of civil rights abuses. With a legal system based on an extremely conservative understanding of Islam, Saudi Arabia continues to consider it a crime for anyone to be gay. Anyone found to be engaged in a gay relationship may be arrested and severely punished, with punishments including flogging, fines, imprisonment, and even death.

WikiLeaks originally made an effort to redact sensitive personal information before documents were published. At first, journalists were employed to work through documents and identify personal information that should be redacted. Later, an attempt was made to use software to automatically redact certain information. Now, for the past few years, the organization does not even attempt to redact personal information from leaked documents. The argument from the group is that redacting any information only supports the idea that knowledge is dangerous.

Unfortunately, for some ordinary people living in places like Saudi Arabia, the sharing of this knowledge may indeed be dangerous. In a repressed society, victims of abuse or sexual assault may be discriminated against and further victimized because their story was made public. Those whose sexual or gender orientation does not align with the accepted legal norms of the society may be in real danger and at risk of serious harm. At least in this case, it appears that WikiLeaks may indeed have too many leaks.


What do you think about organizations like WikiLeaks releasing personal information? Should they limit leaked documents to those involving the government, or is it alright to also release private information as happened with the Saudi Arabia leaks?




Robert Witham
Robert Witham
A freelance writer and journalist, I am also a wandering minimalist. I never sit still for too long in one place. When I am not writing I can be found reading, enjoying a good cup of coffee, hiking, fishing, installing a new OS on my laptop, or building a website.