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Should a country/government give all its information to the citizens/public? If no, what information should the country not release?

This question is inspired by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. I was wondering if you guys think there is some information about your country that the government can keep to itself. Or should you be granted access to all information regarding your country? This question is mainly about transparency and the government's right to have privacy from its citizens.

After some Googling, it seems this question is about open governments and how open they need to be for "effective public oversight" (thanks Wikipedia).

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    Oct 5 2013: No, the country/government should not give all information to public.
    It should keep at least the fact that it is as fallible as any member of public with itself to prevent anarchy.
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    Sep 30 2013: To reveal all plans and contingencies to the public is to reveal them to the world. Such an act would put a nation at a severe disadvantage regarding protecting its citizens from an aggressive enemy. For example, if a burglar knows your plan is to hide quietly in the bathroom while they pillage your house they will be encouraged to target you. Great harm can be done to a nation's security, and wrongful aggressors can be motivated to act, by unwise acts of disbursing certain sensitive information.
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      Sep 30 2013: Would your definition of "certain sensitive information" be anything that could harm a nation's security and motivate aggressors to act?
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        Sep 30 2013: It includes that but is not limited to that.
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    Oct 5 2013: sensitive information should not be spread. on the other hand governments should be truthful to their citizens regarding anything that would affect them. So it's more concerned whither the information is political or ideas in which people should know or get prepared to. M.AG
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    Oct 24 2013: Information is power, and can be abused or can be used smart. I was always open-minded for free flow of information, freedom of speech and expression etc but since Julian Assange case where he gave so much information to the world, including army locations and other top secret military data, sometimes I am thinking - is it really necessary to go so much with all that "we have the right to know" thing ? Some stuff simply must be hidden from the ordinary people, for security reasons if nothing else.
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    Oct 23 2013: If you work for an organization , business , city , state ,country,etc... you have an obligation to keep the company business
    private , if you are in a position of confidence .

    You know you are being either wrong , or criminal or both , its just a matter of conscious , and if you are a member of the government military , well you know what can happen to spies .

    If you choose to profit from your actions , either by money or fame or revenge , you must face the consequences .
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    Oct 20 2013: Keeping information from the general public should be treated as a class 1 crime and punished with a life sentence. Accepting that your government can keep information secret should be treated as conspiracy to a class 1 crime and should be punished with a life sentence.
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      Oct 23 2013: I too like simple, clear laws. Yours is as good as any, and is probably doable with some effort. I confess that I have worked in the government myself, and have known secret information, but I'm glad to say it's now out of date so I should be safe under Provision #1 of the proposed law.

      Since most citizens seem to fall into Provision #2's class of conspirators (guilty of accepting that a gov't can conduct diplomatic or defense preparation without revealing details of the deliberations to the world), we could start by constructing jail space for about three billion criminals (adults only). This will give a boost to economies worldwide. We know that politicians are eager both to stimulate the economy and to avoid a lifetime in prison, so this program will undoubtedly be embraced with enthusiasm

      A web site could be devoted to publishing the security codes and arrangements, and the key patterns for Fort Knox and all other public buildings, and another site to publish everything the government knows about each of its citizens, such as your address, earnings, health records and whether you owe alimony. The addresses and security arrangements of ambassadors will be especially convenient to some.

      One of the most useful web sites may be the one that gives full recipes and techniques for making all known chemical and biological warfare agents and explosives. Some gov'ts, like the US, place air marshals on random flights in an effort to discourage evildoers. The detailed schedule of which flights they're on will be very helpful for those who are inconvenienced by not having this information.

      I agree that this will be a better world. Assuming that the life sentences are commutable, our three billion inmates could probably be released after a brief reeducation, which would unfortunately reduce the building program and negatively impact the building industry. But by that time we'll surely find other new crimes, such as taxing the people, that warrant incarceration.
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        Oct 23 2013: Paul, my phrasing clearly goes too far for you :) It's a way to express my opinion on the subject using an extreme expression: I'm not suggesting to actually implement such laws, that writing style simply means in common English that I'm strongly against secrets and secrecy, I do believe that on the long run secrecy damages the public by allowing a bunch of maniacs to do whatever they want with almost no control.

        I apologise for using metaphors and often also extreme dichotomies to express my opinion graphically, but I'm Italian, thus that phrasing style is embedded in my DNA.
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          Oct 24 2013: GDF:
          Hyperbole is at times an effective rhetorical tool, especially when the question under discussion seems outlandish, as here. So we've both had a good chuckle.
    • Oct 24 2013: The problem with this idea is that the law is too easily manipulated by money and power. Copyright being the prime example of the idea of rule of law being beat back many times by corporate money.
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    Oct 13 2013: I like to know things. I read a lot and do a tonne of research an analysis for fun. This enable me to use my mind to judgement and ascertain whether what my government is telling me through the mass-media is true or not - maybe I'm a geek or a freak for wanting to know. I also think that what is going on with our governments' (loosely and broadly) is that they are fearful of the electorate - they are terrified of loosing their power and control over us. There is a different kind of democracy evolving these days in large part due to the internet and social platforms like Ted which enables us to thinks, share, debate and essentially expand our minds to wider ideas, knowledge and understanding. We are able to communicate at distance in ways which were not possible 30-years ago and this terrifies our governments too, because with knowledge comes power and the ability to discern the truth from the lies. So they [our governments} spy on us in the name of national security rather than closing the loop-holes in the laws of our land which are denying us our fundamental rights to life, and our most basic freedoms - The more they become afraid, the more they will lie and the more we as a people will loose, until we have nothing left to loose - at which point I think the worst nightmares of the political elites and the plutocracy will manifest. Actions speak louder than words - and with great power comes great responsibility - these are things that our governments and the plutocrats have forgotten... As for WikiLeaks I think they could have handled some of leaking in a more conscious manner, but a lot of what came out was already suspected by those like me who have a brain and like to know stuff. Finally you can't have true and meaningful democracy without honesty and transparency!
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    Oct 13 2013: There are people like me that just like to know stuff just because I like to know stuff . I sometimes like to talk about the things I know but then other times I just keep it in the old information storage just for use when the appropriate time comes . So for me I would like to at least hear it and then decide if i'm interested .
    Some people on the other hand or just nuts and it might cause them to be just radical and hurt someone maybe even me or you ; and that just wouldn't be kosher .
    so I say let it be available for people who want to know and the people who dont want to know to know ... well thats up to them .
  • Oct 13 2013: Information is just another commodity. When you restrict the commodity: 1) the price goes up for everyone 2) information can be a weapon and is not fair that only the criminals can use it 3) Information like land, water and the air we breath should be available to everyone
  • Oct 8 2013: As bad as it sounds, the Goverment withholding certain information from us is not always a bad thing. Lets face it, we can't trust everyone in our country. So if we just open up any sensitive information to the normal everday puplic it poses a serious risk to our country as a whole. So we have to make a decison on which is more important our safety or being in the know
    • Oct 21 2013: Hunter,
      Re-read what you wrote: "Lets face it, we can't trust everyone in our country...."
      You can't trust your own government for crying-out-loud.
      Think. Please.
      Being in the know is more important than our safety because our safety depends upon
      I don't know about you, but I am an adult and I want the truth, because I value it, live by it, trust it,
      and want to continue to be able to recognize it and act on it.
      The truth doesn't pose a serious risk to us/US. The truth only poses a risk to those who don't want others to know what they are doing.
      You have simply been told what to believe and what to think and then based on those two, what to say and what to do, i,e, in this case write.
      I find it hard to believe that is solely your own belief because if you were to look more deeply at what authority has been telling you, you will find it is mostly lies, propaganda and with ulterior motives that do not benefit you or the rest of society.
      Do not let authority be the truth. Perhaps you already have. Truth is the authority.
      That can lead to and is known as being artificially intelligent or being a mental robot.
      If there is nothing to hide because nothing wrong is being done, then why do those
      in office work harder and harder for more and more secrecy? It isn't to protect us/US.
      It is to protect them.
      Because they have lots to hide.
      Please learn to think more critically.
      • Oct 26 2013: Random, I re-read several times what Hunter said. The first time I had no doubts what he meant. Then I read your comments and went back to Hunter - read it twice trying to see how you could react the way you did. I conclude that you completely got him wrong. For your benefit, he should have said "can't trust ABSOLUTELY everyone". But I have no doubt what YOU said. You think ALL of us have the right to see ALL the information that the government has that is used to form strategy and policy. Since the government has all of YOUR financial and medical history, that should be made available too. You're probably right about one thing Random, that I don't agree with you. You have a very narrow viewpoint of political motivation and you contradicted yourself several times.
  • Oct 5 2013: You can say "people are stupid" but stupidity is actually just a lack of information. You can not shape public opinion, if you are revealing all of the information. The more information is revealed, the less "stupid" the people are, and the less you can shape public opinion.

  • Oct 3 2013: Government is of the people and by the people. The power comes from the people, and the people are stupid to allow them any secrecy at all. Secrecy is corruption.
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      Oct 4 2013: Re: "Government is of the people and by the people. The power comes from the people, "

      Don't you think, it's an illusion? One might think that people vote in their best interest. In practice, media can easily shape public opinion and steer public emotions one way or the other. People think they make choices, but these choices seem to be guided. And, by the way, they are guided by simply providing information to people.

      Do I need to know more about the government? I don't know. E.g. when someone tells me that politician such and such is corrupt, I immediately have a question, why am I given this information? Is it true or is it fabricated or cherry-picked by someone who wants to steer my opinion and get my vote?

      Perhaps, people are stupid to have a government. Or, may be, this is why they need one? In so called "democratic countries", people take pride that they elect their own government and then they complain about this government they elected themselves. How smart is that?
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    Oct 1 2013: Actually,I'm disagree with it.If all the information is clear to the public,it may cause some jeopardized consequence.Further more,some secret agency will not be exist.As someone says that no blame attaches to the unconscious doer of wrong.
  • Sep 30 2013: There are some things that need to be kept secret for benefit of the nation and its people.
    Security matters mostly, through there are other things best kept quit. Diplomacy for instance--airing out a nation's diplomatic dirty laundry only benefits its enemies, even if it does satisfy the public curiosity.
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      Oct 1 2013: What makes you think that diplomacy has to produce 'dirty laundry' in the first place?

      Shouldn't diplomacy produce the complete opposite of 'dirt' in behalf of the name of their people?

      Isn't this 'dirt' actually nothing but the result of 'classified information' and shady deals behind closed doors?

      Supporters of public surveillance strategies often argue, that 'if you have nothing to hide, there shouldn't be any reason not to like being watched' ... If at all and before anything else, doesn't this apply to diplomacy first?

      'Dirty laundry' has always only been the result of 'dirty deals'. If this is what you wish your diplomats to do in your name, I am not with you.
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      Lejan .

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      Oct 1 2013: Could you please specify those 'some things that need to be kept secret for benefit of the nation and its people'?

      And what, if not 'the people' makes a 'nation' to you? And what can be in the interest of 'the people', but at the same time, non of their business? Who is going to decide in 'their behalf'? Who is controlling those who control those in charge? How do you prevent efficiently and consistently the 'misuse of power'?
      • Oct 1 2013: The diplomatic dirty laundry is a result of spying on friendly countries (a necessity, you need to know what's going on in the world, and everyone spies on everyone, including allies), and of making all sorts of statements to one party you don't want another hearing, as well as the odd broken promise.
        Ironically, being completely honest with everyone is the diplomatic equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

        As for security matters, let me put it like this.
        I'm one of your nations enemies, planning either a military campaign or a terrorist attack. If you've decided to forgo secrecy, I have all sorts of wonderful sources of intelligence I can work with to plan and act on, that are sitting right out there in the open.
        If those things are kept secret like they're supposed to be, I'd have to do a great deal of my own intelligence gathering, forcing me to spend further time and resources (and potentially being found out along the way), or go in with incomplete intelligence, hurting the operation.

        Military matters come with a very different rule set then civilian ones. Having someone on the other side actively trying to undermine your operation forces you to be secretive.

        The system is open to abuse, true, but then, what isn't?
        In my nation, we solve this problem by having these sorts of covert decisions go through the government and when needed, the supreme court as well. These are small bodies that can be realistically kept air tight (unlike a parliamentary body which leaks out information like a sieve), and therefore make these kinds of decisions.
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          Oct 1 2013: Interestingly, those 'small bodies that can be realistically kept air tight' are especially of high interest how you get the 'foot into the door' and which has realistically proven to be highly efficient and vividly leaking.

          The problem of espionage is, that there are no certainties, whatsoever, whereas honesty can provides just that, and this without exceptions.

          The fact which you are stating, that anyone is spying on anyone, is neither proof that it has to be this way, nor does it excuse this custom.

          Espionage does not prevent wars or terrorism. It never has, and never will be, but it has helped to decide to go for war, as it provides comparative numbers on the military setup of an potential enemy, better to say victim. So no matter how you put this, nothing a civilized nation should want for.

          Any average intelligent person with enough criminal potential and a sufficient budget can inflict terror on any nation on this planet and this without this nation to have seen it coming.
          There is nothing one can do about it, as this is the essence of terror. And as less reason this single person has to do this, as less likely it will be to prevent this to happen.

          It's a myth that any nation was able to protect itself, and as harder they try, as more freedom they have to sacrifice for their people, as anyone has to be considered to be a potential terrorist. And this is not a story I just made up here, as there is a recent example of a large nation which is going that path right now and nobody knows where this will lead to ...

          Vulnerability is the backside of the coin of freedom and there is no cherry-picking possible here.

          Following you logic, we should all just turn into dictatorships, as slaves are known to be valued and therefore protected by their masters. Anything in between would only be a waste of time, as we would neither gain sufficient freedom, nor security, so lets get over with it once and forever ... Dictator for president, bring them on!
      • Oct 2 2013: The fact of the matter is that everyone spies on everyone. Like death and taxes, you don't have to like it, but its not going away anytime soon.

        Espionage actually can prevent terror, at least to an extent, if it allows you to strike first, either through an arrest or a hit squad. Its not pretty, and its not much fun, but it does work. You just need to make sure you do it in a way that doesn't arouse more anger in the long term.
        The alternative is to either sit there and take it (which involves your economy taking a nose dive and the bodies piling up), or give into the terrorist's political demands, which only goes to encourage that sort of behavior in the future.

        As for war, spying doesn't prevent war in the slightest, but what it does allow, is for a more favorable outcome once a war has started. As former military, I can tell you that good intelligence is one of the most crucial elements of any operation. And information the enemy knows you have is information that's no good at all--they just change their plans accordingly. In short, you want to have as much intelligence as possible while denying it to the enemy, less the war not go in your favor.

        You also need to remember that unlike in the US which fights its wars on the other side of the globe, for most nations, a fouled up war can see your country descend into ruin. Its a matter of survival, you can't expect people not to do everything possible in order to win. Secrecy in security matters is a big part of that.

        Its quite a leap to go from keeping military secrets to repressing the population however. There's little correlation between the two.
        I actually see it as beneficial to publish anything that does no diplomatic harm and is of no security value. Transparency helps with efficiency as long as you don't have an enemy entity trying to sabotage your efforts.
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          Oct 4 2013: Nadav, all of your explanations are understandable to me without challenging my imagination, as the system of espionage created out of itself the 'logic' of justification for itself.

          Intellectually it is as understandable to me as the concept of vendetta, whereas vendetta has become less accepted over time in many countries and this due to social evolution.

          Both, vendetta and espionage include self-perpetuated arguments which root deeply in deterrence, safety and precaution for a separated group of people, which then is directed against all other people. And in this nations behave like a scaled up family clans.

          Today, no modern civilization tolerates vendetta anymore, as their legal systems replaced this ancient custom in the attempt for a less cruel and more objectified justice.

          On national level, whatsoever, we seem to refuse to adopt those changes and therefore prevent and postpone any further social evolution yet promote conflict and mistrust instead.

          The best we came up with so far, is the creation of military alliances of states, so that the risk of aggressors gets split among the members and their military power joined for the discouragement of such. Unfortunately, those alliances themselves become a potential aggressor as well for non-member states and the vicious circle keeps going ...

          Espionage even undermines those alliances, as spying on friends seems not to collide with the moral code of its members, which only reflects its overall insincerity.

          The fact that I don't like this insincerity does not mean that I expect this to change anytime soon. But if I was silently excepting it, like death and taxes, there was no reason for this to change ever! This makes the difference! Social evolution is not going to happen if we stop seeking for alternatives. I we stop working on this world to become a better, a more peaceful place for our children, then there won't be a better tomorrow at all.

          We got to question ourself what and why we do what we do.
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          Oct 4 2013: 'Its quite a leap to go from keeping military secrets to repressing the population however. There's little correlation between the two.'

          Unfortunately, this isn't the case and it takes only a switch in 'direction' to be used against the population of a country. Any secret service organizations is highly interwoven with the legal structure of its country, it got to be, as for 'them' there are no 'save areas' anywhere. And it gets even worse, as this 'interwovenness' is one-directional in many cases. Public security forces and other internal defense arms are obliged to cooperate with their intelligence services in terms of information exchange and to execute orders, yet the scope of information those receive in return is highly limited.

          In Germany, we had just recently a 'perfect' example of how faulty the concept of espionage and cooperation works in between institutions, as for decades extreme right wing activists and criminals have been able to proceed their ethnic cleansing against immigrants and, even worse, the German secret service didn't only knew about it and remained silent, their liaison personnel and contact persons have played an active part in it.

          During the court proceedings, piece of evidence have multiple times 'miraculously' disappeared or 'accidentally' destroyed by our secret services, that it became clear by itself, that those services are not protecting our democracy, they are endangering it in its very core!

          And Germany is no exception here, its just another example.

          Thanks to brave whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and by sites such as wikileaks, the public awareness is able to get a sense about the scope of what's going on behind those 'close doors'. And lots of what we get to see is illegal. And what is illegal, has to be put to court and the people in charge have to face the consequences.

          Yet instead, they chase the messengers in order to 'kill' them. Is this what democracy is about? No it isn't and not just to me!
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          Oct 4 2013: '...for most nations, a fouled up war can see your country descend into ruin. Its a matter of survival, you can't expect people not to do everything possible in order to win.'

          What is interesting in any conflict is, that the parties involved always say, that its the 'other side' who is threatening. Never themselves, as if this was a natural constant. No nation I know of ever went into war, knowing, they are the 'bad guys'. Not even Germany, when it unleashed its incomprehensible slaughter.

          By this it is important to understand the mechanisms of what forms the perception of a threat, what causes it, what amplifies it, and who is molding it in his interest.

          I have met people of many parts of this world and I am very confident to say, that all of them want to live a peaceful life, they are not aggressive and would only harm another being in self-defense. I am also confident to claim, that the majority of all people on this planet thinks this way, and those who don't have a mental condition to deviate from that.

          So actually, there is not much to fear about the people of other nations, as those won't do you any harm if you don't attack them. It is that simple!

          Now, the fact that we have all this conflicts ever since can not be rooted within the majority of the people, therefore it must be a minority responsible for that.

          As a former military you should be aware about the psychological conditioning of soldiers in order to make them perform against their natural tendency of reasoning and conflict avoidance and to obey orders by any means. This conditioning, however, is actually part of the whole problem, not its solution, which is controlled by a very small minority. The minority!

          There is this beautiful saying, stating: 'Imagine if there was a war and nobody showed up'

          And before all, thats the direction we, the people, have to head for in order to make lasting friends, instead of allies. And no, friends do not spy on one another - liars do!
      • Oct 4 2013: It'd be great if everyone just stopped spying and killing on each other, but realistically speaking, that's not going to happen.

        By locking yourself out the system by refusing to spy or turning into a pacifist, you're essentially letting the other more ruthless players eliminate you by those same means you refuse to partake in (they have a well informed army, you don't, whats to stop them? Morality?). Again, it'd be great if everyone just stopped, but for it to work, everyone has to stop together. Which is never going to happen. The prisoner's dilemma, I believe its called.

        Threat is very much mutual, I agree, and everyone always likes to think their side is in the right. The truth of the matter is, right and wrong is a matter of perspective. You might as well stick by your side, seeing as its the one that benefits you most. Like the "if everyone would just stop together" above, everyone is always going to be looking out for their own faction's interests as opposed to the general good, and that's not going to change for much the same reasons.

        Security is just like death and taxes. No one has to like it, but its here to stay, so you may as well be good at it. And being good at it means keeping secrets.
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          Lejan .

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          Oct 4 2013: I choose not to agree with your conclusion.

          Out of this your mindset, how do you explain the fact, that India freed itself almost peaceful from British occupation? How was this possible? The British didn't reduce their ambitions, nor did they stop spying. What made them withdraw from all those resources they were after?

          So there are solutions to the 'prisoner's dilemma', which may not alway occur at first sight.

          I have seen several changes within so called 'unalterable loops' and I took my active part in it to make this happen. And you can do too. Actually, from what I know of you so far, you are a potential candidate in my view, to make a difference when the time is just right for it.

          Nations are less vulnerable than you think, especially if they earned the friendship of others.

          We are getting there, slowly, and you can mark my words on this. With a bit of luck, and if death is friendly with both of us, I may be even able to stress a little bit of the 'I told you so' phrase on you. I assume on this, you wouldn't mind me doing so ... :o)

          Its only on us, so lets keep going!
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    Oct 23 2013: In the USA transparency is buzz word ... All of Obamas records are sealed ... voting for Obamacare went on behind closed door ... Executive Orders are being used to go around Congress .... All of this after the promise of the most transparent administration in history.

    As retired military ... i accept that some things must remain closed until initiated. You would not want the enemy to know your date, time, location of attack ... you would not want them to know troop movements ... there are times when secrets would protect people, materials and facilities. In cases of grave danger I agree they are necessary.

    All information about Benghazi should be made public we are protecting a potential political candidate.

    We now know and dislike NSA data retrieval .. even though is is small in comparison to Homeland Security and their efforts along with buying up ammo and armored vehicles ... UN Article 21 was agreed to by Hilary Clinton and has never been made public .... These are samples of a administrations pursuit of a agenda. None of them should have been secret or unannounced ... accept that there would have been public upheaval.

    I think that Assage and Snowden have did both good and bad. At time they were both responsible and irresponsible. If we had a open and politically independent media much of this would not have occurred.

    The oversight as intended in the Constitution comes from the elected officials that represent the wishes of their constituents. By the results of the recent polls that all politicians are somewhere below pond scum I would think this is not happening.

    So no not all information should be released ... but using political position for party / personal gain is totally unacceptable. The political "elite" should be governed by the same laws as those they represent.

    The fewer secrets the better. Some where I read ... WE THE PEOPLE ....

    Be well. Bob.
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    Oct 23 2013: Governments in a democracy are elected by the people. Our elected representatives are put in the positions they hold because we believe that they have the skills to collectively ensure effective administration of our country and its affairs. These are people who supposedly have been elected because they have the "required" skills to govern a nation. We trust their judgement and have democratic safeguards in place to ensure that issues of national importance are debated upon by elected bodies before being acted upon.

    So yes, since we trust our elected representatives, it is not necessary that all state secrets are disclosed to the public - the public is made up of people with varying levels of intellect; they are not necessarily going to understand and make sense of this information with the same level of intelligence. In most cases, the outcomes of such information dissemination (including leaks) are less than desirable. Depending on the intelligence and emotional quotient of the population in general, the outcomes can range from sensible protests to widespread anarchy.
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    Oct 21 2013: It is better to be in some kind of the lack of knowing. Imagine how many riots and anarchy would it it makes.
  • Oct 19 2013: No, a government cannot and will not share all its information with us. The true challenge lies in ensuring that there are sufficient checks and balances (a trite phrase in America) to ensure that what they are doing in secrecy is acceptable. Governments are motivated by power. The reason that we have codified a series of rules is to make sure that this power does not get to the point where it has a negative effect on the society that is being governed. Though we will not be able to see all the information of the government, we should try to have the best methods for ensuring that what they are doing would be acceptable if we were to know.
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    Oct 6 2013: Even the most open govt. withholds info. on a work in progress. Open-ended approach may well attract meaningful ideas that help solve problems. But more often a scheme or project in the works, in an open environment, evokes negative inputs, the negativity of which can kill inventive spirit and motivation.
  • Oct 5 2013: The problem is that the government not only hides from he citizens certain secret "classified" information, which , in some occasions, is justified. But they sometimes told the citizens false information. For example, the U. S.government told the citizens (public) that the newly established NSA will only look at the phone or email conversations which are involved with communication with a suspected terrorist. But, according to what Edward Snowden revealed, the NSA even tap into the emails of Brazilian President Dilma Yousseff. So She scolded the NSA in the UN General Assembly. I don't believe that Yousseff will talk about it in the UN General Assembly if it was not confirmed. Therefore, this is not only dishonest, but seems completely out of line. By the way, this is not an isolated incidence, several leaders in Europe also made formal protest on the same problem too.
  • Oct 4 2013: The entire notion of Government relies on the idea of a system that functions at optimal efficiency, where sub-units are separated by function and work alongside each other for the common good of the whole. The natural world has compounded an extraordinary amount of attempts to build such a system and quite frankly there is a reason that the nervous system only shares a portion of its "knowledge" of the entire body with the various single organs. A country should run representing a variation of a conceptually similar pattern, if only to obtain maximal efficiency with regards to responding to internal and external stimuli. Needless to say, our governmental system is flawed in the essence that is human designed and operated. Including the quantitative whole of a country's citizens can provide numerously larger possibilities to handling a variety of situations, but not everybody needs to be focused on the locating, evaluating, and relaying of information throughout the whole. Government is designed to do just that, and to realize that only a small portion of individuals need to contain the slight majority of global information is to understand the true role a government should play. To relinquish all info is to relinquish the governments purpose. The implicit issue being addressed in this conversation is not whether or not government should exist at all, its the efficiency and quality of the government systems currently in place. This is not to say that information that is truly vital to a nation's future hasn't been withheld, as it surely has, and in many of those cases, national involvement in decision making might have played a role in altering history as we know it. However, there are already enough decision struggles being made at the mass population level every day. These are the social movements that require the opinion and knowledge of the whole. One must both consider and challenge all aspects of opinions regarding a bigger picture issue as such, good luck! :)
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    Oct 4 2013: I think all information should be available to the population, because all the people that´s on goverment are just a representation of the people. So, as they are a representation, their job is to be accountable.
    That´s why we have so many problems in Brazil, where all corrupt rulers can hide everything they do.
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    Oct 4 2013: yes , absolutely , I think we populace have the rights to know everything about what government has done or will do , regardless of secret or not, thx
  • Oct 4 2013: Again,
    yes, yes, yes.
    All countries, all information, without exception,
    should be released to the public;
    the very people government is supposed to work for!
    How humans make decisions is crucial rather than 'who'
    but the 'who' has to be the people and what is best for solving their problems.
    The average person in virtually all countries, does not want war and they have
    to be fooled, lied to or deceived into going to war, so the risk of war would not be a problem.
    Only leaders want war and people don't have to go.

    As Obama keeps telling American't citizens, oops, let me rephrase that,
    as the Manchurian Candidate (Obama), keeps telling the Manchurian Citizens (American'ts)
    they should have nothing to fear in losing all privacy if they have nothing to hide,
    WHY THEN, does or is the government, and all governments for that matter, creating more
    and tighter secrecy for themselves, what they are planning, what they are doing, what they
    have done and eliminating all transparency, ALL OF IT, for themselves?
    When are people going to wake up and take action instead of talking?
    Now, in 2013 internet freedom has been eroded even more and the joke in Washington
    from the ex head of the cia and nsa, is about his wish (in his darker moments but he is already and always is
    dark with evil) to have Edward Snowden put on a "kill list",
    the very person who has forced some transparency upon these evil people and their gangs.

    Frankly, those in power are still afraid of the populace because they still have the power SHOULD THEY
    FINALLY CHOOSE TO USE IT!, so it really means what is it they have to fear since they desire secrecy so
    The truth is, one doesn't even have to know what they are hiding. They are hiding and need to be gone.
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      Oct 4 2013: You are right Random Chance,
      All governments are terrified that the general public will one day get their act together and exercise their latent power. And what are governments terrified of that an organised public will do and demand?
      Well, the public will protest en masse (usually in good humour) and demand sensible polices (like tightly regulating the banking system), demand no more wars (what a tragic waste of resources on all sides), and demand a level of transparency that some politicians will find embarrassing.
      I wonder why that is really so terrible for so-called eminent distinguished educated monied leaders to handle? Pride, perhaps?
    • Oct 26 2013: Random, you are on the right side but you don't express much common sense. Your contention is that all politicians are and will be corrupt so get rid of them all. Then, who will take their place? No one qualifies, according to you. Your last statement "--one doesn't even have to know what they are hiding. They are hiding---" implies guilt by association or situation. Like a young man driving his parents nice car - 'he's a teenager so he has to be driving drunk in a stolen car'. Its extreme ideas and expression like yours that give sensible conservatives a bad name. Liberals point to your type, use YOUR logic, and tell everyone that all conservatives are like you, so we all go down in flames.
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    Oct 3 2013: In the U.K there was no right of access to government records until the Public Records Act 1958 introduced a 50-year rule. This was reduced to 30 years in 1967. In 2009 there was a debate that it should be halved to 15 years (it wasn't). The freedom of Information Act in 2000 has not effectively changed that much of what went before.
    However, exceptions can be made to "hold back" the 30 year rule. Records are to be opened to public access at such time UNLESS they are deemed likely to cause "damage to the country's image, national security or foreign relations" if they were to be released. So some things are not ever made available to the public.
    By the time much of what is allowed to become available to the public actually becomes available, the various politicians involved in questionable activities are usually long since retired, or dead.
    Is this a problem? Only if you want to feel like you are living in a democracy.
  • Oct 2 2013: I think not all the information should be released, sometimes we just can't accept the truth.We give the government our votes, I think we should also give them sufficient trust that they will protect those information and make good use of them.
    • Oct 2 2013: I do not agree with you,because not all governments in the world are trustworthy especially those autocratic nations such as china,North Korea,Iran and so forth.For example in china,many people still do not know the truth of the Tian An men square event happened in 1989,which many students were killed by the government.People have right to know all the information.
      • Oct 3 2013: well, I am a Chinese, and I know this(by googling when I visited America),and I am impressive that the government can hide such a horrible event from us(essentially no one in my age knows that), and it turns out, China government is really good of hiding truth
  • Oct 2 2013: Yes.
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    Gord G

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    Oct 2 2013: Information is quantitative. Perception is qualitative. The gap is the realm of political ambition and societal anxiety. Information is not a problem. It becomes a problem in relation to desire.

    Side note: The documentary seems to capture the inevitability of anarchy (the power of connectivity and the amorphous nature of digital ideologies).
  • Oct 2 2013: Countries should make all information available to their citizens unless it presents immediate national security risks.
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    Oct 1 2013: I guess it depends of the type of government, the level of development of citizens and situation too. As we know what the social psychology is, how crowd effect works and how collective subconsciousness could protect people from understanding the reality.

    Sometimes when we speak about government and public we could mean an idealistic situation: all citizens is developed persons with good education and just need true information to make logical decision for the best. It never works. Even if a government somehow develope wisdom, public could split in different parts. Who is majority? Who is minority? How will they use information? Could they restrict themselves to avoid mistakes? Or they could make more mistakes because of panic?..

    I think there is several important points to be very clear. It will protect government from malversation of power. Also open information could develop public to more hight level of consciousness behaviour.

    For everythings else it could be information comes too early or too late to be public. The question is who have the authority to separate one from another and make decision what to reveal.
  • Oct 1 2013: I think it seems that most people feel that governments need to keep some secrets. you seem to want to know what type of secrets.

    1. protect the source- people, technology,
    2. your plans - Stalin knew what FDR and Churchill were planning and he knew about the atom bomb
    3. their plans - Supposedly Churchill knew about the bombing of Coventry but did nothing rather than let the Nazis know they had broken enigma
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    Oct 1 2013: Well, it depends on the system a country is governed by.

    For any democracy, as it is governed by representatives of 'the people', there can't be any information withhold from 'the people', who govern themselves. Because the very moment information is withhold from 'the people', those very people aren't capable anymore to govern themselves, as thy don't have any information available anymore to do so.

    Scary, isn't it? ;o)

    And no, there is no natural constant in this universe for any nation to have to have its own intelligence service aka 'secret service' to be able to ensure any form of its national security. On the contrary, those who have them are giving signals to their neighbors to be suspicious about them in the first place ...

    Any other political system but democracy of course has enough reason not to release any information, as it will cause to spawn different ideas and allow opposing ones to gain strength.

    Ah, did I mention, that democracies are known to 'die behind closed doors'? Keep your eyes open and you'll get to see what this means when put to practice ...

    Any similarity to democracies existing or gone is purely coincidental ...
  • Sep 30 2013: It is extremely difficult to provide effective guidelines for the use of security classifications. Such guidelines already exist, and are often ignored. In Washington DC the top secret classification is used more for establishing priority than security.

    Now there is no effective accountability for abuse. That could be changed by law, if Congress could be persuaded to do so. The law would also have to provide protection and incentives for the whistle blowers.
  • Da Way

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    Sep 30 2013: Most governments are already more transparent than they used to be. A lot of classified information and files have their 'sell-by dates' where the reason for their secrecy gets more irrelevant with time, and the security level drops accordingly, eventually opening to public view. This never used to happen in previous generations!
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    Sep 30 2013: Only a government run by morons and dim-wits would reveal all its activities in details to the people.
    For citizens, there are things that should be known and are relevant to curiousity about good governance and accountability. There are things that should be kept from public knowledge; because if such things are so open that they could be assessed by both friends and enemies, the enemies would have an ammunition for their sinister ideas.
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    Sep 30 2013: Thank you Kai for asking very relevant Question in todays scenario, Every thing in the interest of the Society should be disclosed and provided i.e. detail of the last penny used for the welfare of its citizen will avoid corruption to some extent, How and on what merits the positioned are filled in government agencies will reduce favoritism to some extent, Earnings and its source, of government people will control Corruption and brokerage. How the Government facility is used by Government workers with timely records will control the misuse or rather I would say Private use. So there are many such Society interest issues that should be disclosed to the people and Plan of defence and technology used in it, should be not disclosed to general society in present Scenario.