Journalistic Freedom and the Surveillance of Journalists Post-Snowden

Authored by: Paul Lashmar

The Routledge Handbook of Developments in Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138283053
eBook ISBN: 9781315270449
Adobe ISBN:


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A paradigmatic shift is sometimes revealed by an unanticipated and extraordinary event, and so it was with Edward Snowden in 2013. A National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Snowden was so appalled at the exponential expansion of covert digital surveillance that he decided it was his moral duty to inform the public, indeed the world. This he did from a hotel room in Hong Kong when he gave a small group of selected journalists access to 1.7 million classified documents taken from the NSA. These documents revealed the global snooping capabilities of the NSA and its ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence agency partners (ASIO in Australia, CSE in Canada, GCSB in New Zealand, and the GCHQ in United Kingdom). The Five Eyes can vacuum up just about all digital communications anywhere, anytime, and much else besides if they are so minded. Many who take a deep interest in signals intelligence thought these Anglo-Saxon agencies had probably increased their capabilities since 9/11, but even they were shocked when Snowden revealed the sheer scale – it far exceeded any estimate of capability.

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