An Executive Order to Stop Future WikiLeaks

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President Obama issued an executive order to safeguard confidential information transferred on government networks.

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In the aftermath of WikiLeaks’ disclosure of confidential documents last year, the President has issued an executive order implementing new safeguards to protect classified government information from future leaks. The order grew out of a seven-month interagency review of governmental procedures.

The order creates a new organizational structure aimed at preventing future breaches of confidentiality by coordinating interagency action, detecting threats, compiling institutional best-practices, and developing interagency policies and standards.

An interagency Insider Threat Task Force, to be spearheaded by the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence, will create a government-wide program focused on deterring internal vulnerabilities and leaks. The Task Force will include members of the Departments of State, Justice, Energy, and Homeland Security as well as several other agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency. The Task Force will develop standards and provide guidance for agency implementation of the insider threat program.

In addition, government agencies will be expected to do more to protect classified information. The order requires each agency to designate a supervising senior official and to establish an “insider threat and detection” program consistent with the Insider Threat Task Force’s standards. The order also requires agencies to help staff the Insider Threat Task Force as needed.

Some analysts worry that the government is over-reacting to the security threats and that the measures called for by the executive order may deter analysts from accessing classified information. Perhaps anticipating these concerns, White House officials have reportedly noted that the order would strike a balance between sharing confidential data and preventing future security breaches.