Theft or public interest?

Aaron Sorkin penned an op-ed in the NY Times talking about the hack of Sony and the subsequent publishing of info that the hackers stole. In it, he writes:

I know there’s juicy stuff in the emails and I know some of us have been insulted and I know there’s more to come. No one’s private life can totally withstand public scrutiny. But this is much bigger than hurt feelings and banged-up egos.

If you close your eyes you can imagine the hackers sitting in a room, combing through the documents to find the ones that

will draw the most blood. And in a room next door are American journalists doing the same thing. As demented and criminal as it is, at least the hackers are doing it for a cause. The press is doing it for a nickel.

This is a murky area as it is pinned a bit on what is in the public interest vs what is interesting to the public. Sony celebrity commentary is def interesting to the public. It probably doesn’t seem to pass the first test.

But what determines that?

That’s the hard part.

In our world of startups and tech, publications regularly publish memos, financials, etc which are forwarded to them by others. The outlets are not hacking into Uber or Dropbox to get the docs which maybe the difference maker in this situation, but if received from someone who hacked their systems, is it?

Is there a public interest served when they do this?

These are hard questions with unclear answers. It is apparent we’re going to have to make up the rules as we go along.

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