The names dropping as a result of the controlled online publishing of the Panama Papers has brought some very important persons like David Cameron, Vladimir Putin, Mauricio Macri into the populist spotlight, quickly regarded as very likely fraudsters even before they were maybe aware of the allegations themselves. If the Panama Papers emerged as part of a legitimate effort to combat international corruption and fraud, both the parameters and the modus operandi of the so-called biggest leak in history appeared quite questionable.
First, considering the data was collected outside any proper judicial inquiry, one has no guarantee that the Panama Papers haven’t been altered, modified or just mixed within the framework of a possibly malicious or just a careless approach. Besides given their volume the 2,600 terabytes of data meant that the data was necessarily hosted by a major hosting / cloud services provider, thus putting the data under the control of a private company rather than strictly under the 106 newspapers’ which broadcasted them.
What have been the measures taken by the newspapers, in the field of information and cyber security, in order to make sure that the data would remain fully authentic and inalterable? Knowing this process could help to assess the strict and very needed veracity of the Panama Papers. Second, finding a name doesn’t necessarily mean someone has done anything unlawful. Of course, there may be suspicions but, and ethical reliable newspapers wouldn’t contradict, it’s insufficient to condemn anyone, or even to tell the public this anyone’s name, otherwise this could constitute defamation.
Third, if there’s confidence that one among the numerous anyone has been guilty of fraud, the 106 newspapers either obtained evidence from one’s national tax service (IRS) showing the one did break the law, and this would be quite unusual in itself, or the 106 newspapers haven’t such evidence but still do broadcast the data, meaning they are accusing people without any strong evidence from any fair, recognized and independent judicial authority. Combating fraud is an essential and very welcome combat, unfortunately combating fraud this way could eventually prove counterproductive.