When Secrecy Classification Is Used to Stigmatize

In an incredible display of idiocy, the Department of Homeland Security has ordered its employees to avoid reading news stories that feature the leaked NSA information:

Per the National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center:

There is a recent article on the Washington Post’s Website that has a clickable link titled “The NSA Slide you never seen” that must not be opened on an Unclassified government workstation. This link opens up a classified document which will raise the classification level of your Unclassified workstation to the classification of the slide which is reported to be TS/NF.

If opened on an Unclassified system, you are obligated to report this to the SSO as a Classified Data Spillage (Opssecurity@hq.dhs.gov ;mailto:Opssecurity@hq.dhs.gov).

Again, please exercise good judgment when visiting these webpages and clicking on such links. You may be violating your Non-Disclosure Agreement in which you sign that you will protect Classified National Security Information. You may be subject to any administrative or legal action from the Government.

The Department of Defense is also silly:

The memo goes on to say that “DoD employees or contractors who seek out classified information in the public domain, acknowledge its accuracy or existence, or proliferate the information in any way will be subject to sanctions.” That’s right. They could be punished if they even acknowledge the existence of the documents.

A military university established by Congress for Defense Department employees also has similar policies.

This is ludicrous in terms of information control–many employees would be able to access the story through their cellphones or a non-governmental computer. So this isn’t about preventing employees from reading it, but stigmatizing the leaker and the act of reading the leaked information.


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