How Surveillance is Changing Journalism and the Law

If I can't report a story without keeping a source safe, I'm not going to report a story.

– Jonathan S. Landay, Senior national security and intelligence correspondent, McClatchy Newspapers

It turns out that surveillance affects more than just privacy.

We know the government collects massive amounts of data about us, including bulk domestic calling records in the millions, many of our international emails and calls, and much more. Those programs have obvious privacy implications, but more than a year since the first Edward Snowden disclosure, we need to focus on the other democratic pillars that government spying has imperiled.

A new report, produced jointly by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, shows that large-scale surveillance by the U.S. government is undermining the work of journalists and lawyers. Many leading journalists covering national security, law enforcement, and intelligence have found sources and information increasingly hard to come by. Surveillance is compounding a host of other challenges faced by journalists lately, like a significant spike in the prosecution of their sources and new government initiatives to minimize even minor leaks.

Many of the journalists I interviewed for the report described struggling to find ways to protect their data and communications, adopting new and sometimes elaborate techniques to do so. Encryption? Check. Air-gapped computers? Check. And many of these journalists are now using "burner phones," going back to payphones, or even trying to contrive ways to bump into sources in person. These techniques can take extra time. Combined with sources' growing reluctance to speak – even about unclassified matters that the government has no business protecting in the first place – that means reporters are producing stories at a slower rate.

The result? We have less information about our own government.

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Lawyers need to modify their practices, as well. The Snowden revelations have made it clear that attorneys need to go to new lengths to maintain their clients' confidences. Increasing challenges in communicating securely make it harder for them to build trust with their clients and to develop legal strategies with clients and co-counsel. A number of lawyers have begun adopting techniques similar to those used by journalists.

Both journalists and lawyers also emphasized that taking such elaborate steps to do their jobs makes them feel like they're doing something wrong. As one lawyer put it, "I'll be damned if I'm going to start acting like a drug dealer in order to protect my client's confidentiality."

That feeling is understandable, and it is a profound problem that so many others shared it, given that journalists and lawyers play such integral roles in our democracy. We depend on the press to tell us what our government is doing, and without that information, it is much harder to hold our government to account when it missteps or overreaches. In the age of drones, mass surveillance, and indefinite detention, we need coverage of national security and intelligence as badly as ever.

The same goes for lawyers – especially defense lawyers. Confidentiality and attorney-client trust are crucial for effective representation, cornerstones of fairness in the justice system.

We know that mass surveillance can obliterate privacy. But more than that is at stake. Without privacy, essential democratic processes are in danger.

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JB Smith

The brain initiative and Obama Care are the great deceptions and two of the worst deceptions perpetrated on the citizens of the United States of America. State and Local law enforcement are implanting innocent citizens with a biochip. According to "A Note on Uberveillance" by MG & Katina Michael, it's "like big brother on the inside looking out." "Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence" by Springer page 9 states, "law enforcement would have us believe that we can only be safe as long as they know where we are at all times, what we’re doing and what we are 'thinking'". It is such an invasion of privacy. They use the active denial system to make you think you are hearing voices - it has technology like the audio spotlight. Next they use Psyops like stalking, drugs, kidnapping, whatever they can to either 1) put you in a "crisis stabilization ward" or 2) a prison and steal your guns. They are targeting female Christians and military veterans. Go to Rutherford Institute and check out Brandon Raub. They take you to crisis stabilization wards even if you're not a danger to yourself or others and show no sign of mental illness. Why? Because there is a Supreme Court Case by Justice Cardoza - Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hospital,105 N.E. 92 (1914 ) that says anyone of sound mind and not a criminal has a right to say what goes in their body or on their body. They want to ensure there is no way you can get this off. No one in America wants this level of privacy invasion. In addition, it allows law enforcement the opportunity to torture you at will with sleep deprivation, heart attacks and other pains. The active denial system can murder without leaving a mark! The Bio Initiative Report with 2014 additions details all the cancers, diseases and disabilities it causes. Hence, the need for Obama Care.

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