Protecting Trade Secrets In A Post-WikiLeaks World

It is not enough in a post-WikiLeaks world to hope that an admonition not to disclose sensitive company information in a social media policy will be enough. If company trade secrets are posted on the Internet they cannot be taken back, and if newsworthy, they will go viral. A perfect example of this is the prototype 4G iPhone that was mistakenly left in a Redwood City bar by an Apple software engineer celebrating his birthday. The iPhone ended up a few days later with Gizmodo, a tech website, that dismantled the smart phone, and shared its features in a blog article that quickly ended up with over 13 million views. In the case of WikiLeaks, it is reported that the 100,000s of pages of highly sensitive government documents were copied onto a Lady Gaga CD and leaked with disastrous results and world changing ramifications.

The story of the Apple iPhone and WikiLeaks highlight two different ends of the spectrum of confidential information being disclosed. First, there is the case of the accidental, unintentional disclosure. Second, there is the intentional taking of company trade secrets.

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