Even with regards to the leakers, however, the situation is far more complex than Greenberg lets on. He draws elaborate comparisons between the cases of Bradley Manning and Daniel Ellsberg, arguing that digital technologies have expanded the scale and the speed of leaking and made it easier to cover the tracks. But have we entered a truly new era, in which technology provides a robust infrastructure for leaking — a common techno-­optimistic view advanced in many books about WikiLeaks? Or is the whole Cablegate episode just a blip in the long institutional march toward even greater secrecy — perhaps an instanceof governments and corporations not taking their network security seriously but hardly a guarantee that they won’t adapt in due time?

While the former view dominated most of the early responses to WikiLeaks, it seems excessively cheerful in retrospect. It’s true that one set of technologies has made it easier to release the leaked documents to the outside world, but another set of technologies is also making it harder to get them off the corporate or government networks. A pertinent recent case that Greenberg doesn’t discuss is that of Joe Muto, a former Fox News employee who, convinced of his anonymity, leaked some internal Fox footage to the popular blog Gawker. It took Fox less than 48 hours to out him — by analyzing who on their network had retrieved the footage in question. Likewise, just this past June, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, ordered that all employees at federal intelligence agencies who take lie detector tests also answer a specific question about their leaking practices. Very little about the heavily policed contemporary workplace suggests that leaking will become easier.