Monday, April 13, 2009

Investigative journalism under threat from new regulations

The Guardian, a UK Newspaper, has an interesting article about the new regulations in Britain that require telecom companies to keep a permanent log of every call, text email sent or website visited on your mobile phone or wired internet connection.

Investigative journalism under threat from new regulations :
"The concern is that if someone gets in touch with a journalist, who then writes a story based on that information, the new regulations mean that the police - or intelligence services or local council - can work back from the database of all the contacts made to the journalist and figure out who the whistleblower is. It blows a huge hole in the journalist's legal defence under section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act of 1981 that sources can stay secret unless 'the court is satisfied disclosure is necessary in the interests of justice or national security or for the prevention of disorder or crime'. Join the communications dots, and a suspect is fingered.

How do you counter that risk? 'Step down a couple of technological rungs,' says David Leigh, the Guardian's investigations editor. 'Just send a letter - you know, snail mail.' He adds: 'When I've dealt with secret sources they take very great care not to communicate on any electronic medium.'

The next step, says Campbell, is to do what drug dealers and terrorists do: use pay-as-you-go phones and unregistered sim cards, bought with cash. Such closed rings are almost unbreakable - once you've met to swap numbers.

But must journalists and sources really use the same tactics as terrorists and drug dealers?"



Click the link above to read more from The Guardian...
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