Chapter 1: Introduction
The unauthorised disclosures by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden represent a significant turning point, indicative of a future whereby large quantities of official information can be leaked and where not only the disclosures but the discloser may traverse geographical and jurisdictional boundaries. Despite this, the act of making an unauthorised disclosure or ‘leak’ of official information is not a new phenomenon. The United Kingdom has witnessed several high profile instances of leaking in the last 30 years. The difference between then and now is that anonymous posting of brown envelopes containing photocopied documents to journalists has been replaced with memory sticks and online outlets to facilitate disclosure. As a consequence, the volume of leaked documents and an increased preparedness of outlets such as Wikileaks to publish documents in their pure un-redacted form has left governments and the organisations tasked with state security struggling to keep up. The Manning and Snowden leaks provide a unique and unparalleled insight into the work of the Armed Forces, diplomatic services and intelligence services, respectively. The leaks also highlight the lack of transparency and oversight of these activities. Post 11 September 2001, there has been a marked increase in data collection and retention. Intelligence gathering and sharing has become increasingly reliant on a network of global partners. Whilst such collaborative efforts act as a powerful defence against acts of terror, the actions present considerable challenges to the well-established rights to privacy and freedom of expression.