UK police used anti-terror legislation to uncover journalists' sources

February 4, 2015 5:36 PM ET

San Francisco, February 4, 2015--The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about reports that police agencies in the United Kingdom made more than 600 applications under anti-terror legislation to uncover journalists' confidential sources in the past three years. Today's revelation in the Guardian, citing the interception of communications commissioner, Anthony May, comes amid criticism of Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge to make end-to-end encryption illegal in the U.K.

"The latest news that the British government used anti-terrorism powers to spy on journalists shows that the U.K. is not living up to the values it professes and which it must safeguard as an international standard," said CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator Geoffrey King. "Furthermore, this development undermines Prime Minister David Cameron's attack on the use of secure communication technologies by clearly showing that British journalists need to use these technologies to responsibly do their jobs."

In his report, May found that police forces "did not give due consideration to freedom of speech," and recommended that a judge's permission be required when seeking to discover journalistic sources--a recommendation Cameron has accepted, according to the Guardian. The report is the latest in a series of revelations about surveillance of journalists by the British government.

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