Tag Archives: hacking

From Bana and #boycottdelta to gaslighting and AI – why we’re headed for confusion fatigue in 2017

Goodbye 2016, the year of The Boys Who Cried Wolf. Not just a year of ‘fake news’, but something more: a crisis in people’s ability to believe anything.

And in 2017 it’s likely to get worse.

To explain what I mean, you need to go back to 2003, when Salam Pax, the ‘Baghdad Blogger’, was posting updates in the middle of the Iraq War. While some questioned whether he was really based in Iraq, that debate was relatively limited by today’s standards. It was a manageable doubt.

The boys who cried wolf in Aleppo

Cut to Aleppo in 2016 and you see how things have changed. Bana Alabed is perhaps Aleppo’s ‘Baghdad Blogger’: a Twitter account about the experiences of a seven year old Syrian girl, maintained by her mother.

But she is not alone: the number of voices speaking from the ground has proliferated… Continue reading

How publishers could end up helping authorities hack their own readers

Alan Rusbridger holding the destroyed Snowden files hard disk

The Guardian complied when authorities demanded they destroy the Snowden files

So far most of the talk about the Investigatory Powers Bill has been about the lack of protection for journalists’ sources thrown up by powers to intercept communications.

But there’s another part to the Bill which relates to facilitating state hacking – and an analysis by Danny O’Brien has thrown up some worrying ambiguity on this front for publishers – not just those based in the UK. Continue reading

In the wake of Ashley Madison, towards a journalism ethics of using hacked documents

Got leaks? sign

Got leaks image by Edward Conde

Last week I said we needed an ethical code for dealing with hacking leaks, and promised to explore that.

Now yet another site – “casual sex and cheating network” Ashley Madison – has been hacked and the results leaked, so I thought I’d better deliver.

How do you come up with an ethical framework for dealing with hacked documents? Firstly, it’s useful to look at what concerns are raised when journalists use them.

Looking at previous reporting based on leaked documents these break down into three broad categories:

  1. Firstly, that the information was ‘stolen’ (method)
  2. Secondly, that the motivation behind obtaining the information was tainted (source)
  3. And thirdly, that the information represents an invasion of privacy (effect)

Put another way: people are generally concerned with how the leaked information was obtained, why, and to what effect. Continue reading

VIDEO: Surveillance and the ‘1984 Generation’

Online video project newsPeeks have put together a documentary on surveillance. I really enjoyed it, so I’m sharing it here. Not only is the content great (newsPeeks were live at the Logan Symposium on the topic late last year so got some great contacts), but the production is a great example of online-native video (disclosure: I’m an unpaid advisor).

Continue reading

“Don’t be afraid: keep them afraid” and other notes from the Logan Symposium on surveillance’s first day

Don't be afraid. But keep them afraid.

Seymour’s parting advice to young journalists: maintain a watchdog role and hold power to account

On Friday I was at the Logan Symposium on secrecy, surveillance and censorship, an event which, as is often the case with these things, managed to be inspiring, terrifying, and confusing in equal measure.

Notably, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism Gavin MacFadyen opened the day by talking about investigative journalists and hackers together.

It is common to hear attacks on journalists mentioned at these events, but rare to hear an old-fashioned hack like MacFadyen also talk about the “growing number of hackers being imprisoned”, while noting the commonalities of a desire for a free press, free speech, and “a free internet”. Continue reading

Why every journalist should have a threat model (with cats)

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you

If you’re a journalist in the 21st century you have two choices: you can choose to be paranoid, or you can choose to be delusional.

The paranoid journalist assumes that someone is out to get them. The delusional journalist assumes that no one is.

In this post I will explain why and how every journalist – whether you’re a music reporter or a political correspondent – can take a serious and informed look at their security and arrive at a reasonable evaluation of risks and safeguards.

Don’t panic. I promise that by the end of this piece you will be less anxious about security, and no longer paranoid. I also promise to use lots of lolcats. Continue reading