On spies and stratagems/Secrets
There is no good moral reason for keeping secrets, a secret is simply a restricted type of lie, a lie by intended omission. Secrets, like all lies are born of necessity and mistrust. They are often the first reaction to the need for protection against a disclosure of fragilities or insufficiencies. Born from the necessity to prevent others reacting in an informed way, to remove from others the power to reach an educated conclusion and so guarantee a form of superiority.
"Secrecy is the badge of fraud."
– John, Sir Chadwick, (b. 1941), British judge. Independent (London, July 26, 1990)
Also like any lie, secrets have a recursive property that forces not only a continued effort so that they can be maintained but an increasingly taxing one, and more often than not there is a continued aggravation of the initial breach of trust by compounding offenses and misdeeds. Secrets are also a liability that third parties can use to compromise one's position, even permitting the aggravation of a disclosure, since it implies a loss of control over the timing and form of presentation.
Unlike common lies, secrets are also an existential liability, knowing that there are secrets tends to create distrust and suspicion. It even can be said to force others to work toward creating their own secrets in response, in an attempt to balance power. There is nothing more frightening than the unknown.
Secrets also depend not only on the number of entities that share the information but on the number of entities that it must be kept away from. The more people share a secret the harder (costs and effort) it is to prevent a break and the more interested parties there are the more damaging any leak can be.
Sadly we live in an increasingly competitive world that is more focused on short term selfish benefits than long term generalized improvement to the human condition, and even if lies and secrets are accepted in social interactions their use is restricted in large part by human nature. This is not so when dealing with states and middle to large size corporations; they share what we would classify as a psychopathic view of the world and society, very few will have a moral restricted view and even fewer will have altruistic goals, since that would undermine their ultimate competitive nature. In this set-up those values only exist as propaganda and as a result of calculated gestures or image preservation and public relations.
If we then speak of nations, we can even observe, the continued loss of what before World War I was a citizen's shared pride and respect about national image and history, not that it was always a source of good, but it imposed a popular constraint in the choices of governance, a sentiment that could have evolved into increased collaboration in global affairs has devolved into an apathy toward the national policies (unless they infringe personal interests, especially those of power groups) or has been simply propagandistically subverted as to create ever increasing divides. This is a sad state of affair and a loss of opportunity especially since globalization has increased our chances to communicate and so reach agreements and compromises.
Privacy versus secrecy
Commercial or economical secrets
"Truth becomes treason when you point out [state] lies."
– Ron Paul, in an interview to RT on 11 October 2014.
A part of what would be classified as state secrets is the non-publicly accessible information regarding state security forces. In this section the intelligence agency itself would be included, its operations and operatives, methodologies and assets. There are even state secrets that require protection simply because the information could aid the competition in circumventing intelligence gathering activities.