Right to Report in the Digital Age
CPJ launches anti-surveillance campaign
New York, September 8, 2014–Revelations about surveillance, intimidation, and exploitation of the press have raised unsettling questions about whether the U.S. and other Western democracies risk undermining journalists’ ability to report in the digital age. They also give ammunition to repressive governments seeking to tighten restrictions on media and the Internet. To combat these trends, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today along with more than 45 supporting partners including The Associated Press, Getty Images, Bloomberg News, The Huffington Post, First Look Media, Slate, Global Voices Advocacy, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched the campaign “Right to Report in the Digital Age.”
“When journalists believe they might be targeted by government surveillance systems, pulled into an overbroad criminal investigation, or searched and interrogated about their work at the U.S. border, their ability to inform the public is eroded,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch. “So too is the U.S. government’s credibility on key issues such as press freedom and other human rights, Internet governance, and the rule of law.”
Among the most chilling reports based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden are those suggesting U.S. and allied intelligence agencies targeted news organizations,journalists, and human rights groups for surveillance. Journalists have also reported beingsearched and interrogated about their work at the U.S. border.
As part of the campaign, CPJ has launched a petition seeking three key commitments from the Obama administration:
- Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations
- Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers
- Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border
“Technology has become essential to journalism, both in the U.S. and around the world,” said CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator Geoffrey King. “Press freedom is best safeguarded by government policies that allow speech to flourish – online and off.”
CPJ has documented the Obama administration’s aggressive prosecution of alleged leakers, which has chilled the flow of news. Last October, CPJ released a special report written by former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., called “The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak Investigations and Surveillance in Post-9/11 America.”
CPJ is a global, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide
Note to editors:
CPJ experts are available for interviews in New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. This press release is available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The hashtag for the campaign is #RightToReport
Sign the petition here.