Thursday, February 13, 2014

Report: NSA Actions Pose 'Direct Threat To Journalism'

The National Security Agency’s dragnet of communications data poses a direct threat to journalism in the digital age by threatening to destroy the confidence between reporter and source on which most investigations depend, one of the world’s leading journalism watchdogs has warned.

According to The Guardian, the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based body that promotes press freedom around the world, has devoted the first two chapters of its annual report on global threats to an assessment of the impact of the NSA’s data sweep. Its internet advocacy co-ordinator, Geoffrey King, warns that the NSA’s dragnet threatens to put journalists under a cloud of suspicion and to expose them to routine spying by government agencies.

By storing mass data for long periods, the NSA could develop the capability to recreate a reporter’s research, retrace a source’s movements and listen in on past communications, King warns. “It could soon be possible to uncover sources with such ease as to render meaningless any promise of confidentiality a journalist may attempt to provide – and if an interaction escapes scrutiny in the first instance, it could be reconstructed later.”

CPJ’s annual report, “Attacks on the Press”, which was released at the United Nations building in New York on Wednesday, chronicles a troubled year for journalism with 211 journalists imprisoned and 70 killed – a near-record number. On top of an all-too familiar account of censorship, kidnappings, detention and killings, the committee’s warnings on the dangers of mass surveillance sound a new alarm for the digital age.

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