On March 7, WikiLeaks released a large amount of documents outlining the hacking capabilities of the CIA.
Over the years, both the existence of WikiLeaks and the legality of its content hav been the subjects of contentious debate in numerous countries. However, regardless of one's opinion regarding WikiLeaks and the CIA, all Americans should be shocked by this latest leak.
The sheer amount of information released by WikiLeaks in and of itself should be extremely troubling for the American public. According to The Independent, this particular leak -- dubbed "Year Zero" -- is the first part of a series known as "Vault 7." The Year Zero leak consists of 8,761 documents. In a release, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated that the leak showcases "the entire hacking capacity of the CIA."
In order to understand the scope of this leak, it is helpful to have a basis of comparison. A good example is Edward Snowden's release of NSA documents in 2013. Snowden, a former CIA analyst, released 200,000 classified documents to journalists, reported Business Insider.
It is true that the number of documents released by Snowden was much greater than the number released in the Year Zero leak. However, the number of pages released in the Year Zero leak -- and consequently the amount of information released -- already exceeds the Snowden leak. And that isn't even accounting for the Vault 7 documents that have yet to be released.
The magnitude of the Year Zero leak brings up questions of national security. According to the CIA's website, "the protection of national security requires that many of the CIA’s intelligence activities remain secret." In effect, the CIA classifies documents that -- if released -- could pose a threat to the United States' well-being.
The Year Zero leak should be shocking because it shows that it is indeed possible for individuals to acquire a large number of state secrets. If leaks like this were to happen in the future, it could compromise the safety of the United States.
In addition to the scope of the leak, the content of Year Zero should also be a source of concern for Americans. According to The New York Times, the documents contain a description of software tools and instructions that can be used to break into internet-connected devices, including Apple and Android products.
Although the ability to gather information is part of the CIA's inherent scope and focus, the fact that it can so easily break into commonly used devices should be a source of distress for the American people. We all hope that the CIA would use these devices and techniques responsibly, but an abuse of power is always a possibility. These documents should therefore also be seen as reason to worry about privacy.
Regardless of what your opinions are regarding either the CIA or WikiLeaks, the Year Zero leak demands your attention. It raises questions not only about the security of the CIA's classified information, but also individual privacy. It is clearly a big deal, and should be treated as such.