US data sweep harms press, rights - study

2014-07-28 20:40

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

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

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."

Read more on:    us  |  privacy  |  media  |  security
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.