Leakers and leaks have long been a threat to every government and politician out there. Many leaks completely overturned governments. Just to clarify, a leak happens when an insider in the government – an employee, contractor, etc. – shares sensitive information without authorization. For the most part, leakers want to remain anonymous, but that doesn’t always happen.
When it comes to leakers, there are many different opinions and misconceptions as to why they leak information. What motivates a leaker (read this)? Many people think that leakers are simply people with strong morals who cannot help but do what they think is the right thing. But, of course, things are rarely that simple.
Many leakers are driven by personal or ideological elements. Of course, some leakers put themselves in an uncomfortable and risky situation because they think that they have to do the right thing, but other times the leakers are simply helping themselves, and not the world. Many government leakers are patriots, and their strong love for their country prompts them to act when they perceive that something is putting their country or their fellow men at risk.
Other times, leakers use the information that they are privy to to establish their power or shape their careers. Many politicians who are blocked within their party or powerless within the system turn to reporters and use leaking as a way to stay relevant. People also leak information in the hopes to have a hand in shaping the story. When sensitive information is revealed and comes out in the media, it can have a powerful influence in what actually happens. For example, when there is a leak that someone is about to get fired, even if the information is false, the person often ends up really being fired because of how the media portrays this information.
So the next time you see a leak in the press, stop and think about why government leakers leak, and take into account that things are rarely black-and-white.