Wikia

Psychology Wiki

Secrecy

Talk0
34,140pages on
this wiki
Revision as of 12:26, December 26, 2009 by Dr Joe Kiff (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Social psychology: Altruism · Attribution · Attitudes · Conformity · Discrimination · Groups · Interpersonal relations · Obedience · Prejudice · Norms · Perception · Index · Outline


Secrecy or furtiveness is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups, perhaps while sharing it with other individuals. That which is kept hidden is known as the secret.

Secrecy is often controversial, depending on the content of the secret, the group or people keeping the secret, and the motivation for secrecy. Secrecy by government entities is often decried as excessive or in promotion of poor operation; excessive revelation of information on individuals can conflict with virtues of privacy and confidentiality.


Secrecy in sociology and zoology

Animals, including humans (in some cases), conceal the location of their den or nest from predators. Squirrels bury nuts, hiding them, and they try to remember their locations later.

Humans attempt to consciously conceal aspects of themselves from others due to shame, or from fear of rejection, loss of acceptance, or loss of employment. On a deeper level, humans attempt to conceal aspects of their own self which they are not capable of incorporating psychologically into their conscious being. Families sometimes maintain "family secrets", obliging family members never discuss disagreeable issues concerning the family, either with those outside the family and sometimes even within the family. Many "family secrets" are maintained by using a mutually agreed-upon construct (an official family story) when speaking with outside members. Agreement to maintain the secret is often coerced through "shaming" and reference to family honor. The information may even be something as trivial as a recipe.

Keeping one's strategy secret is important in many aspects of game theory.

Secret sharing (anthropology)

In anthropology secret sharing is one way for men to establish traditional relations with other men. A commonly used Academic narrative that describes this kind of behavior is Joseph Conrad's short story "The Secret Sharer".

Government secrecy

Governments often attempt to conceal information from other governments and the public. These state secrets can include weapon designs, military plans, diplomatic negotiation tactics, and secrets obtained illicitly from others ("intelligence"). Most nations have some form of Official Secrets Act (the Espionage Act in the U.S.) and classify material according to the level of protection needed (hence the term "classified information"). An individual needs a security clearance for access and other protection methods, such as keeping documents in a safe, are stipulated.

Few people dispute the desirability of keeping Critical Nuclear Weapon Design Information secret, but many believe government secrecy to be excessive and too often employed for political purposes. Many countries have laws that attempt to limit government secrecy, such as the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and sunshine laws. Government officials sometimes leak information they are supposed to keep secret. (For a recent (2005) example, see Plame affair.)

Secrecy in elections is a growing issue, particularly secrecy of vote counts on computerized vote counting machines. While voting, citizens are acting in a unique sovereign or "owner" capacity (instead of being a subject of the laws, as is true outside of elections) in selecting their government servants. It is argued that secrecy is impermissible as against the public in the area of elections where the government gets all of its power and taxing authority. In any event, permissible secrecy varies significantly with the context involved.

Corporate security

Organizations, ranging from multi-national for profit corporations to nonprofit charities, keep secrets for competitive advantage, to meet legal requirements, or, in some cases, to conceal nefarious behavior. New products under development, unique manufacturing techniques, or simply lists of customers are types of information protected by trade secret laws. The patent system encourages inventors to publish information in exchange for a limited time monopoly on its use, though patent applications are initially secret. Secret societies use secrecy as a way to attract members by creating a sense of importance.

Other laws require organizations to keep certain information secret, such as medical records (HIPAA in the U.S.), or financial reports that are under preparation (to limit insider trading). Europe has particularly strict laws about database privacy.

In many countries, neoliberal reforms of government have included expanding the outsourcing of government tasks and functions to private businesses with the aim of improving efficiency and effectiveness in government administration. However, among the criticisms of these reforms is the claim that the pervasive use of "Commercial-in-confidence" (or secrecy) clauses in contracts between government and private providers further limits public accountability of governments and prevents proper public scrutiny of the performance and probity of the private companies. Concerns have been raised that 'commercial-in-confidence' is open to abuse because it can be deliberately used to hide corporate or government maladministration and even corruption. A string of publicly scandalous revelations about poor, wasteful or corrupt management of government-funded private contracts left unchecked for lengthy periods, often in prison management[1], has added credence to the views of skeptics about the prudency of the neoliberal reforms themselves.

Technology secrecy

Preservation of secrets is one of the goals of information security. Techniques used include physical security and cryptography. The latter depends on the secrecy of cryptographic keys. Secrecy is central to organized crime. Many believe that security technology can be more effective if it itself is not kept secret.

Information hiding is a design principle in much software engineering. It is considered easier to verify software reliability if one can be sure that different parts of the program only have access to certain information.

Military secrecy

A military secret is secret information that is purposely not made available to the general public and hence to any enemy, by the military in order to gain an advantage or to not reveal a weakness, avoid embarrassment or to help in propaganda efforts.

Most military secrets are military in nature, such as the strengths and weaknesses of weapons systems, tactics, training methods, number and location of specific weapons and plans.

Some involve information in broader areas, such as secure communications, cryptography, intelligence operations and cooperation with third-parties.

Views on secrecy

Excessive secrecy is often cited as a source of much human conflict. One may have to lie in order to hold a secret, which might lead to psychological repercussions. The alternative, declining to answer when asked something, may suggest the answer and may therefore not always be suitable for keeping a secret. Also, the other may insist that one answer the question. Nearly 2500 years ago, Sophocles wrote, "Do nothing secretly; for Time sees and hears all things, and discloses all." And Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha, once said "Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth".

See also


References

  1. need ref

The Federal Information Manual. P. Stephen Gidiere III. American Bar Association (2006)[1].

"the sunny place for shady people". [2]

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki