This article is more than 1 year old

WikiLeaks fights The Man by, er, publishing ordinary people's personal information

If you contributed to the Democrats Jan–May, get identity theft protection now

WikiLeaks prides itself on taking on The Man by finding and publishing information that the world's most powerful organizations want to keep hidden.

Unfortunately, on Friday, WikiLeaks took a swing at The Man by standing on the heads of thousands of innocent citizens whose personal details it has published, including their names, home addresses, phone numbers, and even credit card, social security and passport numbers.

Just to make it even easier for identity thieves, the veritable goldmine of personal information is provided online in plain text and is even searchable.

The records are included in nearly 20,000 emails sent by senior operatives in the Democratic National Committee's campaign and communications department between January and May of this year. WikiLeaks obtained the internal memos and published them in full on the web.

The sad truth is that the emails are fantastically free of useful or interesting information – unless it's genuinely a surprise to you in 2016 that PR people the world over try to control stories (emphasis on try), or that the Democrat party machine favors Hillary over Bernie, or that Hillary wants to distance herself from Wall Street. None of these should surprise you.

A significant chunk of the files are simply mailing list-style emails providing news highlights, or calendar items for long-past events.

If anything, the release shows that the people whose accounts were compromised, including communications director Luis Miranda, national finance director Jordon Kaplan and finance chief of staff Scott Comer, are very careful about not sharing confidential information over email.

And then

Unfortunately, the database theft also scooped up automated messages sent through the signup and contribution page. Those emails provide the personal details of people who have contributed to the campaign – even if it was just $5.

It is regrettable that this sensitive information was stored in plain text in such a way that, by one means or another, it could be obtained by WikiLeaks. That is something Democrat officials will have to explain.

That aside, far from exposing the corruption of high politics – which, presumably, is what WikiLeaks intends – its data dump has put ordinary citizens at the very real risk of having their identities stolen.

By simply searching on obvious keywords like "contribution" or "passport" or "SSN," it is possible to instantly track down a wealth of information on over a thousand individuals.

Perhaps in the world of WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange, anyone who contributes to a political party is by definition a part of the vast global conspiracy and deserves to be exposed to the kind of risks to their financial well-being that those unlucky souls will now almost certainly experience.

But for everyone else, it looks as though WikiLeaks has been grossly irresponsible and, frankly, idiotic, not to screen, review or filter this information before publishing. ®

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