The Investigatory Powers Act has now been law for almost six months. For journalists and publishers this means having to remember that the webpages that you and your sources visit, who you call on your phone, and where you take it, are all being collected and potentially accessed by a range of authorities*.
“Despite reports of widespread interception of communications by the UK government, and revelations that police were using surveillance powers to access journalists’ communications data to identify sources, regional newspaper journalists show few signs of adapting source protection and information security practices to reflect new legal and technological threats, and there is widespread ignorance of what their employers are doing to protect networked systems of production. This paper argues that the “reactive” approach to source protection that seeks to build a legal defence if required, is no longer adequate in the context of workforce monitoring, and that publishers need to update their policies and practice to address ongoing change in the environment for journalists and sources.”
McLaren is talking about malicious threats, and the way that machine learning can be used to identify suspicious patterns of behaviour. But the example given above is equally useful in illustrating the way that similar behaviour might be used to identify an employee intending to whistleblow on illegal, unethical or dangerous behaviour by his or her organisation. Continue reading →
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 →
The latest in the series of FAQ posts comes from a student in Germany who is interested in how investigative journalism is affected by the financial situation of publishers, and how it might develop in the next decade.Continue reading →
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 →
You could be forgiven for not having heard of John Henry Skillern. The 41 year old is facing charges of possession and promotion of child pornography after Google detected images of child abuse on his Gmail account.
Because of his case we now know that Google “proactively scours hundreds of millions of email accounts” for certain images. The technology has raised some privacy concerns which have been largely brushed aside because, well, it’s child pornography.
Sky’s technology correspondent Tom Cheshire, for example, doesn’t think it is an invasion of our privacy for “technical and moral reasons”. But should journalists be worried about the wider applications of the technology, and the precedent being set?