Are Leaked Docs Safe With Canadian Reporters?

Are Leaked Docs Safe With Canadian Reporters?

Postby Oscar » Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:39 am

Are Leaked Docs Safe With Canadian Reporters?

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A homegrown Ed Snowden would find few journos with encrypted email.

By Tim Groves, March 27, 2015, Canadaland

[Editor's note: An earlier version of this story ran on Canadaland, March 19. [ ... rypt-email ] Since then, dozens of Canadian reporters have begun using encrypted email. To learn how to safely leak and receive documents, see Electronic Frontier Foundation's tutorials here. [ ] ]

Thousands of people in Canada have access to top secret government documents, but if any of them are considering following in the footsteps of Edward Snowden and leaking records to journalists, they will find comparatively few reporters in this country who are capable of protecting them.

Snowden, an NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower, leaked a massive trove of documents that revealed potentially illegal surveillance programs throughout the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Intelligence agencies in these countries not only monitor the communications of terrorists and foreign states, they also collect private and potentially compromising information from journalists and the public at large. [ ... ngton-post ]

However, since the Snowden leaks were made public, only a handful of reporters in Canada have taken steps to secure themselves and their sources. Many investigative reporters and even some national security reporters in Canada are not equipped with email encryption.

A Canadaland investigation into over 100 Canadian media organizations, including all major papers and broadcasters, found only 37 journalists in the country have publicly begun using encrypted email with their work accounts since the first Snowden NSA stories in June 2013. This information was obtained using the MIT PGP Public Key Server, a sort of a phone book for PGP encrypted email contacts, to find journalists and other staff publicly using PGP encryption with their work email accounts. The number does not include freelance reporters, but it remains atrociously low when compared with journalists in the United States.

For example, in the same period from June 2013 to present, reporters at the New York Times alone registered 55 encrypted professional email accounts.

Only 12 media outlets in Canada have had reporters sign up for encryption since the Snowden leaks. The Toronto Star tops the list with seven new PGP users, Sun Media has six, and The Globe and Mail and La Presse tie the CBC with five new PGP users apiece.

Dozens of media organizations including Global, Maclean's and The Canadian Press, didn't have a single email address registered on a public key server.


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Tim Groves is a freelance reporter and investigative researcher based in Toronto. His articles have appeared in The Guardian, the Toronto Star, and more.

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