The WikiLeaks incident suggests a provocative question: Is the world rapidly approaching a time when secrets no longer exist? The U.S. government has traditionally depended on secrecy to gain a competitive advantage in counterintelligence. However, the difficulty of keeping information secret is rising exponentially. Technology has outraced the country’s defensive posture and is forcing greater transparency upon individuals, organizations, and governments who are more interconnected than ever before. With the proliferation of sophisticated cyber-security threats, corporate espionage, and social media networking, the world may be approaching a time when there are no more enduring precious secrets.
Adapting to this new reality is challenging. The government and private sector will need to develop strategies and reform current policies to limit the amount of secrets held if they are to survive in such a transparent environment. Failure to adjust could present a dangerous vulnerability to national security. A proactive shift in strategy may allow the U.S. to prevail over its adversaries.
The July 2010 conference titled “No More Secrets: National Security Strategies for a Transparent World” was sponsored jointly by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, and the National Strategy Forum.
The conference examined the likelihood of a world with no secrets. It defined the concept of secrets, identified current inadequacies in managing critical information, and offered solutions to these problems.
The general consensus was that the government, private sector, and individuals must learn to address these new threats and challenges. The government should engage with the private sector in developing new ways of doing business to enhance innovation and seek processes that require maintaining fewer secrets. Ultimately, those who figure out how to operate with fewer secrets will gain an advantage over those who cling to traditional notions of indefinite information monopoly.
The conference report can be found here: No More Secrets: National Security Strategies for a Transparent World