Forgive me for sounding a little paranoid, but I’ve had the rainbows ripped from my eyes. Last fall, I signed up to work on a CBC investigation into Canada’s electronic spying programs, relying on the CBC’s exclusive access to the Edward Snowden/NSA leaks. It has been shocking to learn the capabilities of our intelligence agencies. But it has also been a surprising crash course in new technology, privacy and vital questions facing the future of journalism.
But surveillance risks go beyond reporters covering foreign conflicts, terrorism or spies, notes Christopher Parsons of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, who has helped the CBC dissect the Canadian Snowden documents. “Sports reporters might be less interesting to signals intelligence organizations but might still be very interesting to other sporting organizations, criminal betting organizations and so forth.”
“Malware and spyware infect computers across Canada on a regular basis; what do you do when your work computer, holding audio or text files pursuant to a sensitive story, has been compromised?” asks Parsons. “Do you want to notify sources? Do you want to have an ‘air gapped’ computer, which is disconnected from the Internet, where you store source materials, and another computer or device for writing your stories?”
These are awkward questions. No news organization wants to publicly admit its electronic communications are vulnerable. Frankly, I’ve never had a single conversation with the CBC’s IT people about whether we’ve been hacked or compromised, let alone been told what we do specifically to protect sensitive information. And it’s vital, because so much of our email and work these days lives in the cloud.
The economy has a Gen-X problem. It’s a small cohort with a much-smaller-than-usual homeownership rate. And people wonder why the housing market is sluggish.
To quote a friend… “ah, it feels good to be blamed for something once again.” :p Damn us GenXers for ruining the economy.
While working on the book, Mr Hager said he was prepared for a raid-type situation, but did not believe the police would conduct one on his property.
This is exactly the kind of thing that political reporters shouldn’t have to prepare and defend against is democratic states. But more and more are because of overzealous state secrecy laws combined with bullying policing tactics.
Talking with Salmon, Goodman said she has an “enormous amount of evidence, including evidence which is not public,” persuading her Dorian Nakamoto is the right guy. “Goodman has not decided whether or how she might publish that evidence… What’s more, she has also made it clear that she was in possession of evidence which other journalists could not obtain,” Salmon wrote.
And that’s a problem, because many aspects of the story already look like a caricature of journalism gone awry. The man Goodman fingered as being worth $400 million or more is just as modest as his house suggests. He’s had a stroke and struggles with other health issues. Unemployed since 2001, he strives to take care of basic needs for himself and his 93-year-old mother, according to a reddit post by his brother Arthur Nakamoto (whom Goodman quoted as calling his brother an “asshole”).
If Goodman has mystery evidence supporting the Dorian Nakamoto theory, it should have been revealed days ago. Otherwise, Newsweek and Goodman are delaying an inevitable comeuppance and doubling down on past mistakes. Nakamoto’s multiple denials on the record have changed the dynamic of the story. Standing by the story, at this point, is an attack on him and his credibility.
Ars Technica has written one of the better critiques of the Newsweek story which (likely incorrectly) identified the man believed to have invented Bitcoin. It’s worth the read, if only to have the current state of debate over Newsweek’s story nicely summarized.
LONDON (AP) — News organizations publishing leaked National Security Agency documents have inadvertently disclosed the names of at least six intelligence officers.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s nightly news program, “The National,” revealed the names of three NSA employees when its cameras panned across NSA documents during voice-overs.
“They were scrolling through it and I thought, ‘Hold on, that’s an unredacted, classified document,’” said Christopher Parsons, who noticed the mistake. “It was kind of nuts. I couldn’t believe that they were so cavalierly showing it on national television.”
Parsons, a privacy expert at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, was able to read the employees’ names by pausing, rewinding and replaying the video.
I paid to have my latest Wired story promoted on social networks, like Twitter and Facebook, to try to show that a lot of the metrics* we use to measure a story’s success are bullshit. It worked. When the story went live today, the page appeared with more than 15,500 links on Twitter, and 6,500 likes on Facebook. The story is a part of Wired’s Cheats package for the latest issue of the magazine. It needed to go live online at the same time readers encountered it in print, and it needed to have all those social shares set up in advance.
The entire package was going live at once. I could publish my story a little bit early, but the timing needed to be very close. I wanted all the public-facing stats (like the 15 thousand links and Twitter and 6,000 Facebook shares) to be live by the time the text appeared. Certainly, if someone found it in print or on the tablet, it needed those metrics to already be there. To make that happen, we cheated.
This morning (or last night) at a little after 1 am, I added the story text, set it to the current time, and hit update. Now it showed up in RSS readers and I could openly tweet it form my main account. (I had originally used a secondary Twitter account I have for testing 3rd party stuff to link to it and score retweets.)
So now, the story goes “live” and as if by magic it has tens of thousands of social shares listed on it the instant real people start to encounter it. It worked.
*As is site traffic, to a very large extent. My original idea was to use a botnet to throw traffic at it, but Wired’s lawyers said “no, no. Don’t do that.“
And, of course, people tend to associate lots of shares with an article’s significance or influence. Consequently, by ‘cheating’ ahead of time a content owner can add a false gravitas to the content in question. I’m curious to know how search companies that, in part, use social signals to surface content deal with this kind of ‘hacking the social.’
Freelancers are second-class journalists—even if there are only freelancers here, in Syria, because this is a dirty war, a war of the last century; it’s trench warfare between rebels and loyalists who are so close that they scream at each other while they shoot each other. The first time on the frontline, you can’t believe it, with these bayonets you have seen only in history books. Today’s wars are drone wars, but here they fight meter by meter, street by street, and it’s fucking scary. Yet the editors back in Italy treat you like a kid; you get a front-page photo, and they say you were just lucky, in the right place at the right time. You get an exclusive story, like the one I wrote last September on Aleppo’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, burning as the rebels and Syrian army battled for control. I was the first foreign reporter to enter, and the editors say: “How can I justify that my staff writer wasn’t able to enter and you were?” I got this email from an editor about that story: “I’ll buy it, but I will publish it under my staff writer’s name.”
This speaks volumes about contemporary war reporting: not only are ‘dirty wars’ outsourced to freelancers, but the credibility linked to successfully covering them is either denigrated or obviated to the public.