Danny O'Brien

San Francisco-based CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator Danny O’Brien has worked globally as a journalist and activist covering technology and digital rights. Follow him on Twitter @danny_at_cpj.

CPJ Blog

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Drawing lessons from Chinese attacks on US media

February 7, 2013 12:38 PM ET

Not every media company is as tempting a target for hackers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal. Not every company can afford high-priced computer security consultants, either. Is there anything that everyday reporters and their editors can learn about protecting themselves, based...

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Yahoo HTTPS mail not a moment too soon, nor too late

January 9, 2013 5:50 PM ET

I remember sitting with a Yahoo employee in 2009, talking about the lack of protective encryption on Yahoo's Web mail accounts. Like many, the employee had been caught up in the news of how Iranians were using the Internet to document and protest the presidential elections in that country, and...

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China's name registration will only aid cybercriminals

December 28, 2012 5:24 PM ET

China's mounting crackdown on online news dissemination took an extra step today, when the country's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, its de facto legislative body, announced new requirements on Internet service providers and mobile phone companies to identify their users. The new rules would potentially allow ISPs...

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In Internet freedom fight, why the ITU matters (for now)

December 14, 2012 12:39 PM ET

For most of its almost-150-year history, the meetings of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' communications standards body, have been rather predictable affairs....

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Syria's desperate move to cut links won't succeed

November 30, 2012 1:52 PM ET

The Syrian Internet, like the country, appears to have been collapsing into a patchwork of unconnected systems for some time. I spent time talking to Syrians tech activists this week in Tunisia before Thursday's shutdown, and their reports from the front painted a picture of two different networks....

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Dear CPJ: Some malware from your 'friend'

August 30, 2012 4:32 PM ET

We talk a lot about hacking attacks against individual journalists here, but what typifies an attempt to access a reporter's computer? Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director, received an email last week that reflects some characteristics of a malware attack against a journalist or activist. There was nothing particularly notable...

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Weak cyber protections lead to personal, institutional risk

August 6, 2012 6:14 PM ET

The Syrian civil war is also a propaganda war. With the Assad regime and the rebels both attempting to assure their supporters and the world that they are on the brink of victory, how the facts are reported has become central to the struggle. Hackers working in support of Assad...

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For journalists, danger lurking in your email

July 27, 2012 7:47 AM ET

This week, Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bill Marczak of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab provided a disturbing look into the likely use of a commercial surveillance program, FinFisher, to remotely invade and control the computers of Bahraini activists. After the software installs itself onto unsuspecting users' computer, it can...

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Face-blurring comes into focus for journalists

July 20, 2012 5:24 PM ET

This week, YouTube announced a feature that should catch the eye of video journalists and bloggers working in dangerous conditions. After uploading a video to YouTube, you can now deploy a "blur faces" post-production tool that, in theory, should disguise the visual identity of everyone on the screen. The...

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Internet law: a good bad example of Russia's backsliding

July 13, 2012 3:16 PM ET

Russia's State Duma has passed a number of new laws in the past week, all seemingly aimed at reining in civil society and criticism of public figures. The bills would re-criminalize defamation and impose limits and labels on NGOs. They follow the introduction last month of excessive fines for unauthorized...

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