The NYT‘s environmental blog, Dot Earth, covered the disclosure of e-mails and other files from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, noted that the files are available on various other website, but did not reproduce any files on its site. As Andrew Revkin explained in the post:
The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.
Am I wrong in thinking that this is a change in policy for the NYT? Hasn’t the Grey Lady published illegally obtained documents on national security and other matters in the past?
As I posted earler this morning, there are reasons to believe these documents were released by an internal whistleblower, rather than an external hacker. If so, would the same considerations apply? My initial thought is that arguments against publishing hacked documents might not apply to those disclosed by a whistleblower. In any event, it seems these documents contain substantial material of legitimate public interest, and this interest is not diminished by the way in which the documents were obtained. I readily concede that if the documents were stolen, as it appears, the individual responsible should be prosecuted, but this is a separate question from whether to disseminate the contents of the documents themselves.