Once upon a time, a journalist never gave up a confidential source. When someone comes forward, anonymously, to inform the public, it's better to risk time incarcerated than give them up. This ethical responsibility was also a practical and professional necessity. If you promise anonymity, you're obliged to deliver. If you can't keep your word, who will trust you in the future? Sources go elsewhere and stories pass you by.
The power of HTTPS to protect has been brought into sharp focus by a series of attacks against software collaboration site GitHub. These attacks consistently failed because of the site's universal use of HTTPS. Most recently, GitHub reported a blistering series of distributed denial of service attacks in March, which it believes were an attempt to persuade the site to remove certain content. Security researchers including Robert Graham and Insight Labs analyzed the latest GitHub attack, concluding that it appears to have been mediated by China's "great firewall" censorship system.
In a major breach of public trust and confidence, the Chinese digital certificate authority China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) certified false credentials for numerous domains, including several owned by Google. The deliberate breach had the potential to seriously endanger vulnerable users, such as journalists communicating with sources. The breach was discovered by Google and published on its security blog on March 23. Despite this serious lapse, it appears CNNIC's authority will not be revoked, and that its credentials will continue to be trusted by almost all computers around the world.
When I heard the news last week that Bob Simon had died, I immediately thought back to an interview I had done with him in 2010. It was at an event called the "Courage Forum.," an ideas festival which took place the Museum of Modern Art hosted in New York City. It featured speakers who had demonstrated courage in various walks of life, among them tight rope artist Philippe Petit.
The murders of freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff last year put the news industry on the spot. What could news executives, press freedom groups, and individual journalists do to improve safety? The issue was not new. International news organizations had been grappling with their responsibility towards freelancers and locally hired media workers for years. Several had begun treating freelancers as they would their own staffers when it came to safety. Freelancers too had joined together under the Frontline Freelance Register to demonstrate that they were professionals and should be treated and compensated as such.
Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists in collaboration with local media organizations launched a journalist security guide and protocol designed specifically for the Kenyan press. The initiative stems from research conducted in 2013 by the same group of organizations, the Kenya Media Working Group, in light of acute and unique security challenges for the Kenyan press coming to light that year.
Four years ago, when CPJ launched its Internet Advocacy program, we were met with lots of encouragement, but also some skepticism.
"Why do you need a program to defend the Internet?" one supporter asked. "You don't have a special program to defend television, or radio, or newspapers."
But the Internet is different. Increasingly, when it comes to global news and information the Internet is not a platform. It is the platform.
Naqibullah, the Afghan police commander who killed The Associated Press' Anja Niedringhaus, has been given a death sentence after being convicted of murder and treason. He was also given a four- year sentence for shooting the AP's Kathy Gannon. Naqibullah (who goes by one name, as many Afghans do) opened fire at near-point-blank range on the AP photographer/reporter team in the southeastern city of Khost on April 4, 2014, as they were covering preparations for the first round of voting in Afghanistan's still-contested presidential elections. Wednesday's conviction and sentencing were the first steps along the legal path to a final conviction and sentence, which might not come for years.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.