The Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, is currently preparing a report on the legal framework governing the relationship between freedom of expression and the use of encryption to secure transactions and communications, and other technologies to transact and communicate anonymously online. This report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June, 2015. To prepare his study, Mr. Kaye is gathering information on national laws, regulations, policies or practices that permit or limit, directly or indirectly, the use of encryption technologies and services or the ability of individuals to communicate anonymously online. All States are being asked called to submit information on their relevant national norms and policies. Similarly, the Special Rapporteur would like to encourage all interested non-governmental stakeholders – including civil society, corporate actors, international and regional organizations, and national human rights institutions – to provide their views on the appropriate scope of the right to freedom of expression as applied to encryption and anonymity. He would particularly appreciate receiving comments addressing this matter from legal, state practice, or technical perspectives. Any available information should be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org, not later than 10 February 2015.
It had been evident for some time before Snowden surfaced that best practices in investigative reporting and source protection needed to change—in large part, because of the migration of journalism (and so many other aspects of life) into digital channels. The third reporter Snowden supplied with National Security Agency files, Barton Gellman, of the Washington Post, was well known in his newsroom as an early adopter of encryption. But it has been a difficult evolution, for a number of reasons. Reporters communicate copiously; encryption makes that habit more cumbersome. Most reporters don’t have the technical skills to make decisions on their own about what practices are effective and efficient. Training is improving (the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, at Columbia Journalism School, where I serve as dean, offers a useful place to start), but the same digital revolution that gave rise to surveillance and sources like Snowden also disrupted incumbent newspapers and undermined their business models. Training budgets shrank. In such an unstable economic and audience environment, source protection and the integrity of independent reporting fell on some newsrooms’ priority lists.
Good piece by Steve Coll on how CITIZENFOUR is as much about journalism as it is about surveillance.