Although the Internet has been around for quite some time now, governments and companies seem to have difficulty understanding how it actually works.
This has become apparent many times, starting with the entertainment industry, which has asked Google to police the Internet and remove links from search results, believing that they can completely eliminate them.
The same thing happened when governments asked journalists to return digital copies of files. The most obvious example occurred a few months ago when the British intelligence services have called for Guardian journalists to destroy their hard drivesς, containing the Snowden records.
This, of course, happened despite the newspaper's efforts to point out to the British government that the move would make sense given that the files are stored elsewhere. This is the advantage of digital documents - the ability to have countless copies, stored on countless devices, in the cloud, in emails and elsewhere.
Then comes the Australian government's turn to do something crazy. OR Asher Wolf, an Australian journalist working at the local Guardian branch was asked to return confidential information that had already been published.
Wolf's request was to return the files he used to write an article entitled "Immigration Department data lapse reveals asylum seekers' personal details," which was posted last week.
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The article mentioned in the request sent by the government was based on a document that was available on the website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which contained personal information of current and former prisoners.
"The information, which was never intended for publication, was available to them. "Once they realized the unintentional breach, the service took immediate steps to remove the material from its website," said Wolf.
The government reminded that journalists should not pass information through "dishonest and unfair" media, which, of course, is quite hilarious considering that any material published on the Internet is common and therefore available for everyone to read and to download it.
The reporter was then asked to return all copies of the information immediately.
Of course, this could only happen from people who do not understand anything about how computers and the Internet work.
For its part, Wolf responded to the government, insisting on its position and pointing out the obvious - that the file used by the Guardian was already available to the public. Even if the newspaper published it, it tried to protect the people whose names were mentioned in the archive.
Wolf concluded her letter stating that she did not know who else had taken the document or had access to the information and that she obviously had no intention of giving the service any of her storage devices.
This record has since been downloaded from the state website.
Finally, it is very important that governments begin to learn that when one of their departments publishes a document in error, the document is available to the public and that those responsible for the mistake should be accountable, not the journalist or anyone else has access to the file.
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Article by Gabriela Vatu from softpedia