The Government Is (Kinda) Classifying Less Information Than Ever

Despite the fact that the government seems more enthusiastic than ever about gathering data, its taste for making it classified seems to be waning. This year’s Information Security Oversight Office report reveals that, in 2012, the total number of "original classification" decisions fell over 40 percent.

Original classification refers to new determinations by White House and defense officials that something should be classified . In 2012, just 73,477 such decisions were made—with the resulting cost of classification falling by $1.66 billion along the way.

That drop may not be quite the entire story, though. Because "derivative classification"—a process which can be used to hide information connected to something that’s already been classified—has sawed in 2012. Last year over 95 million instances of derivative classifications were recorded, which dwarfs the original classification figures.

In other words, there's not currently a real move away from hiding information, though the trend of cutting original classifications could have some impact in the future. Progress: it can be slow. [Information Security Oversight via Motherboard via Verge]