The Future of Investigative Journalism in an Era of Surveillance and Digital Privacy Erosion
While the digital era has delivered unprecedented opportunities for big-data based investigative journalism—from the Snowden Files to the Panama Papers—it has also thrown up a host of new threats to the sustainability of journalism based on confidential sources. These include: mass and targeted surveillance; data retention regimes and the handover of data by third party intermediaries such as social media platforms, telecommunications companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs); national security and anti-terrorism overreach; attempts to ban encryption and online anonymity; and malicious digital attacks targeting journalists. If sources cannot securely connect with journalists, they risk exposure, with impacts including economic penalties through to extra-judicial killings. The effect of these threats to accountability journalism and public access to information is chilling, and it is leading to significant changes in the practice of investigative journalism dependent upon confidential sources and information on a global scale.
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