Coming Clean in 2018
US President Richard Nixon and many of his aides learned during the Watergate scandal that the cover-up makes the original mistake ten times worse. In 2018, the Trump administration – and companies like Uber and 21st Century Fox – will ignore that lesson at their peril.
LONDON – It has been a bumper year for making the invisible visible. The last 12 months have overflowed with leaks, allegations, and other disclosures, not just of misconduct by individuals, business leaders, and politicians, but also of proactive schemes to prevent that misconduct from ever coming to light.
Last month, it came out that a 20-year-old hacker breached Uber’s system in 2016 and accessed the information of about 57 million people, including some 600,000 of its drivers in the United States. Rather than admit to the security flaw, Uber quietly paid the culprit $100,000 to destroy the data, in the hope that the victims – and, perhaps more important to Uber, the company’s investors – would never find out.
The Equifax data breach – in which hackers gained access to sensitive personal information, from birth dates to Social Security numbers, for about 143 million US customers – was not covered up to quite the same degree. But there was still a six-week period between discovery of the breach and disclosure to the public, during which three executives sold a small share of their stock, though they insist they had no knowledge of the breach at the time.