Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Privacy

US Data Sweep Harms Press, Democratic Rights: Study

WASHINGTON – Large-scale surveillance by the US government has begun to have an impact on press freedom and broader democratic rights, a study released Monday showed.

WASHINGTON – Large-scale surveillance by the US government has begun to have an impact on press freedom and broader democratic rights, a study released Monday showed.

The report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch found that the vast surveillance efforts aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks have undermined press freedom, the public’s right to information as well as rights to legal counsel.

“The work of journalists and lawyers is central to our democracy,” said report author Alex Sinha. “When their work suffers, so do we.”

The report is based on interviews with 92 people in the United States, including journalists, lawyers, and current and former US government officials. The group included 46 journalists representing a wide range of news organizations, including several Pulitzer Prize winners.

The journalists said the revelations about widespread surveillance by US intelligence agencies has magnified existing concerns about a government crackdown on leaks.

In the current atmosphere, sources are more hesitant to discuss even unclassified issues of public concern, fearing a loss of security clearances, dismissal or criminal investigation.

The report said some reporters are using elaborate techniques to avoid surveillance such as encrypted communications, use of disposable phones or avoiding the Internet and other networks entirely.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The journalists said they feared coming under suspicion for doing their jobs. The journalists said the increase in the US government’s prosecution of officials in leak investigations prompted initial concern, which was magnified by revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

“It is not lost on us, or on our sources, that there have been eight criminal cases against sources (under the current administration) versus three before” — under all previous administrations combined, said Charlie Savage, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times.

Peter Maass of The Intercept said things “got worse significantly after the Snowden documents came into circulation. If you suspected the government had the capability to do mass surveillance, you found out it was certainly true.”

Legal Rights in Jeopardy

Lawyers meanwhile complained that surveillance has created concerns about their ability to build trust and develop legal strategy in a confidential environment.

Some attorneys are using techniques similar to those used by journalists to avoid leaving a digital trail.

“I’ll be damned if I have to start acting like a drug dealer in order to protect my client’s confidentiality,” said one lawyer.

The report said the rights to a free press and legal counsel are pillars of democracy which are being eroded by the mass surveillance techniques.

“The US holds itself out as a model of freedom and democracy, but its own surveillance programs are threatening the values it claims to represent,” Sinha said.

The researchers interviewed 42 practicing attorneys, including criminal defense lawyers, military judge advocates and other legal professionals.

Also interviewed were five current or former senior government officials “with knowledge of the US government’s surveillance programs or related policies.”

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

SecurityWeek’s Threat Detection and Incident Response Summit brings together security practitioners from around the world to share war stories on breaches, APT attacks and threat intelligence.

Register

Securityweek’s CISO Forum will address issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.

Register

Expert Insights

Related Content

Cybersecurity Funding

Los Gatos, Calif-based data protection and privacy firm Titaniam has raised $6 million seed funding from Refinery Ventures, with participation from Fusion Fund, Shasta...

Privacy

Many in the United States see TikTok, the highly popular video-sharing app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, as a threat to national security.The following is...

Artificial Intelligence

Two of humanity’s greatest drivers, greed and curiosity, will push AI development forward. Our only hope is that we can control it.

Privacy

Employees of Chinese tech giant ByteDance improperly accessed data from social media platform TikTok to track journalists in a bid to identify the source...

Mobile & Wireless

As smartphone manufacturers are improving the ear speakers in their devices, it can become easier for malicious actors to leverage a particular side-channel for...

Cloud Security

AWS has announced that server-side encryption (SSE-S3) is now enabled by default for all Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets.

Privacy

Meta was fined an additional $5.9 million for violating EU data protection regulations with WhatsApp messaging app.