Classified Information Was Leaked to Win an Argument
By: Jerry Wang
In the past year, gamers have posted three classified documents to win an argument online and to persuade developers for more realistic aspects.
An online form made to discuss “War Thunder,” an online vehicle based combat game, was where all three posts were made. The posts contained documents on British, French, and Chinese made tanks. The poster concerning the British tank was attempting to get the developers to make the game more realistic. The poster of the French tank, who claims to be part of a French tank unit, posted the document during an argument. The last poster's motives are still unknown.
Despite the posts being a violation of the law, the people have not been prosecuted due to the first amendment and 18 U.S. Code § 794. Barbara L. McQuade, Law School professor and Former U.S. Attorney, described 18 U.S. Code § 794 as "a requirement that you have an intent to harm the United States or provide an advantage to a foreign country" before you can be prosecuted. Since there was no evidence of malicious intent and because the first amendment protected citizens speech from the government no punishment has been issued by them.
However, the released documents didn't contain widely important information in the first place. Mainly since most information on such tanks are already released. For 4 years data on the Chinese tank has been on an online form. Similarly, the U.S. Army’s TRADOC has shared
information on their websites about foreign as well as their tanks and tactics revolving around the tanks. Data can even be estimated from YouTube videos. This all stems from the fact that information is "distributed fairly widely to anyone who uses the tank, supports it, or maintains it," as said by senior analyst, Sonny Butterworth.
This results in no major impact to the countries involved. Overall, this leak demonstrates the length that people would go to. Butterworth called the illegal post of classified documents "the shocking aspect.” It raises the question of how much further people are willing to go for arguments and attention.