Laws Prohibiting Leaking Classified Information

There are several federal laws prohibiting the leaking of classified information. Under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 798, the law prohibits the knowing and willful transmittal of specified classified information to an unauthorized person. This section pertains only to information relating to the communications intelligence systems and activities of the United States.

A person is in violation of the law if they knowingly and willfully perform any of the following acts involving confidential information:

  • Communicate, furnish, transmit, or otherwise make it available to an unauthorized person
  • Publish it
  • Use it in a way that is either prejudicial to the safety or interest of the U.S., or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the U.S.

The penalty for a conviction of unauthorized disclosure includes up to 10 years in prison, a large fine, or both.