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Blog   |   Germany, Internet

Germany scores against the surveillance state

It all went very fast. On Tuesday morning August 4, Germany’s chief federal prosecutor, Harald Range, was ordered by Justice Minister Heiko Maas to withdraw an independent expert from the investigation of two journalists from Netzpolitik. The investigator had concluded that leaked documents quoted by the news website amounted to a disclosure of a state secret, one of the required criteria to pursue a treason case. The prosecutor protested: “To meddle with an internal review on the basis that the results might be inopportune is an intolerable interference with the independence of the judiciary .” A few hours later on Tuesday evening Maas asked for the prosecutor to be granted early retirement. In plain words, Harald Range was sacked.

Blog   |   Indonesia, Internet, Security, USA

Increased risks for filmmakers and sources in documentaries' Golden Age

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary 'The Look of Silence.' (Courtesy of Drafthouse Films and Participant Media)

Joshua Oppenheimer travelled to New York for today's premiere of his documentary "The Look of Silence," but one place he won't travel is Indonesia, where he says his work on this and an earlier film puts him at risk. Earlier this week, Laura Poitras, the Academy Award-winning director of the documentary CITIZENFOUR, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government seeking information related to border interrogations to which she was subjected between 2006 and 2012. These two cases represent the increased and varied risks facing filmmakers and their sources in what many critics have dubbed the Golden Age of documentary film.

July 17, 2015 1:27 PM ET

Blog   |   Internet, Security

Hacking Team leak underscores complexity of regulating software

Among the 400 gigabytes of internal documents belonging to surveillance firm Hacking Team that were released online this week are details of the company's dealings with some of the most oppressive governments in the world. The revelations, which have generated alarm among privacy, security, and human rights advocates, have also fueled debate around the esoteric but important topic of government controls on the export of powerful software that can secretly infiltrate and seize control of targeted computers.

Blog   |   CPJ, Internet, Security

Securing the newsroom: CPJ, journalists, and technologists commit

Jacob Weisberg, chairman of The Slate Group and a member of CPJ's board, left, speaks with BuzzFeed's Miriam Elder, center, and Global Voices' Sahar Habib Ghazi, right, about securing the newsroom. (CPJ/Geoffrey King)

It's second nature now for reporters rushing to a dangerous assignment to grab a helmet and vest. Physical security whether covering conflict or quakes is readily understood, if not always adequately implemented.

June 25, 2015 6:06 PM ET

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Blog   |   Internet, Security

UN report promotes encryption as fundamental and protected right

A meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye is due to present his report on encryption there on June 17. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)

On Wednesday, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye will present his report on international legal protection for encryption and anonymity to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report is an important contribution to the security conversation at a time when some Western leaders are calling for ill-informed and impossible loopholes in technology--a trend that facilitates surveillance and tends to enable states that openly seek to repress journalists.

Blog   |   Internet, Security

Status update: Facebook users now have access to PGP encryption

Today Facebook announced on its blog a new set of features adding support for the PGP email encryption system. The changes allow users to post their public email encryption key to their Facebook profile, inviting others to encrypt future emails. In a move that significantly bolsters security, it is also now possible to request that all email notifications from Facebook be encrypted with a user's public key.

June 1, 2015 11:18 AM ET

Blog   |   Internet, Security, USA

CPJ joins call urging White House to protect encryption for journalists

A wheel cipher invented by Thomas Jefferson and used to securely encode messages in the late 1700s. CPJ is calling on President Obama to ensure modern versions of encryption remain protected. (Jefferson Cipher Wheel by ideonexus is licensed under CC BY 3.0 US)

Journalists are safest when their devices are secure by default. That is why the Committee to Protect Journalists today joined a coalition of nearly 150 civil society organizations, companies, trade associations, security experts, and policy specialists in sending a joint letter to U.S. President Barack Obama. The letter urges the president to support the broad adoption of strong encryption and to reject any proposal that intentionally weakens the security of products made by U.S. companies.

May 19, 2015 12:31 PM ET

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Blog   |   France, Internet, Security

French surveillance law passes National Assembly, but it's not the last word

Protesters demonstrate against the government's bill giving spies sweeping new surveillance powers on May 4, 2015 in Paris. (AFP/Alain Jocard)

Until the last moment the opponents of a very controversial French intelligence bill tried to be heard. On Monday May 4 on the eve of the vote, activists kept calling deputies to convince them to reject the bill. They had no chance however, since the Socialist government could count on a solid majority from both mainstream left and right at the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament. The bill was swiftly and overwhelmingly adopted on Tuesday afternoon with 438 for, 86 against, and 42 abstentions. It will now be sent to the Senate where, despite the chamber being dominated by the center-right opposition, it is not expected to face significant hurdles. "It should be on the statute books by July ," BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield predicted.

Blog   |   China, Internet

China's Great Cannon: New weapon to suppress free speech online

The headquarters of Baidu in Beijing. New censorship tool the Great Cannon is said to have redirected traffic from the popular Chinese site in a massive distributed denial of service attack. (AFP/Liu Jin)

China, rated as the eighth most censored country in the world, in a report released by CPJ today, has long had a strong line of defense against free speech online. Its Golden Shield Project, launched by the Ministry of Public Security in 1998, relies on a combination of technology and personnel to control what can be expressed and accessed behind the Great Firewall of China.

Blog   |   Belgium, France, Internet

Cyberattacks rattle French, Belgian media outlets

A picture taken on April 9, 2015, shows a note on the window of a newsroom at French television network TV5Monde headquarters in Paris, after TV5Monde was hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group. (AFP/Thomas Samson)

The headquarters of Le Soir in the center of Brussels, two blocks away from the Parliament, look serene in the spring sunshine. No sign of violence scars the glass and stone facade. But the leading Belgian francophone daily, the flagship of the Rossel media group, has suffered a concussion. On Sunday a wave of hacking attacks rocked the paper. At 07:00 p.m., the hottest moment of the day when articles were pouring in and had to be published on deadline, the Newsgate data center started to slow down, the Wifi was disabled, the journalists’ professional and personal emails were neutralized. The paper-- where I am a columnist--immediately took emergency measures, separating the Internet from the intranet, to counter the attack and prevent the hackers from taking over the websites.

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