How many kinds of secret are there?

Trick question:

How many different classifications of document should you have?

The answer: two.



Documents should be “public” or “private”.

Public documents need not necessarily be published public documents, but contain information that is not important to keep from the public. By fact, any document that has been published is already public, no matter what you’d like it to be.


Private documents should be attached to an explicit or implicit list of people who are entitled to view them, and there should be policies, procedures, practices and phreakin’ ACLs in place to make sure that their privacy is not broken.


Can you think of a document secrecy category that isn’t covered by this?

2 Responses to How many kinds of secret are there?

  • Pat Telford says:

    If you ask Enron, there is a third level of secrecy that they were unfortunately not aware of. Documents that are so secret that NOBODY should EVER see them again. Normally we would call these *deleted* documents, but maybe we should be looking for a better name. e.g. “Mon dieu! I just accidentally marked my database as secrecy type three”.

  • Alun Jones says:

    You see, that’s the trouble with information – once you’ve let somebody know the information, there is no way to make sure that they un-know it. Once the genie is out of the bottle…

    And then, you get into the state of playing Prisoner’s Dilemma against the other people that know the secret – if you all stay quiet, noone goes to jail; if one of you pipes up, he stays out of jail, and the rest go in. The only way to guarantee that you’re going to stay out of jail is to be the first one who pipes up.

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