#SaveOurSources event round-up

Image of red telephone next to the words 'Save Our Sources', illustrating the Press Gazette's Save Our Sources campaign

We’re pleased to say our #SaveOurSources event at BOM last Wednesday Wednesday (28 September) was a great success. Thank you to all our speakers and everyone who contributed to the event by asking questions in person and via social media.

Here’s a round-up of the event, including links to presentation and other useful resources. Please also check out #saveoursources on Twitter to get a flavour of what we discussed.

If you were inspired by last week’s event, please scroll to the bottom of this page to take action. You can find links below to simple steps you can take to support media freedom and also protect your own online security and privacy.

An introduction to the Snoopers’ Charter and how it Threatens Press Freedoms by Francis Clarke, ORG Birmingham Local Organiser (@francisclarke)

The importance of media freedom and why we must oppose the Snoopers’ Charter by Chris Morley, North and Midlands Organiser, National Union of Journalists

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have led a sustained campaign against the powers contained in the Snoopers’ Charter and have a long history of standing up against the misuse of state surveillance powers to target journalists and their sources.

Chris explained how the Snoopers’ Charter goes against the NUJ  code of conduct, which all NUJ members are expected to adhere to. Specifically, Chris explained how the new legislation threatens the following NUJ principles:

A journalist:

1. At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.

7. Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work.

In his talk Chris explained how throughout history the government and other sources of authorities have always wanted access to journalists’ sources and the Snoopers’ Charter is just the latest in a line of measures to increase state power over journalism.

According to the NUJ, authorities want access to journalists’ sources for two main reasons. Firstly, journalists gain access to places and people the authorities often can’t reach. Accessing journalists’ data is a way of making them an extension of law enforcement, with scant regard for the safety of individual journalists and how this undermines people’s willingness to speak to journalists.

Secondly, authorities want access to journalists’ sources in order to prevent embarrassing stories from becoming public. By targeting journalists authorities can discover the source of damaging sources and punish them, reducing the impact of the story and discouraging other people from speaking to journalists in future. Furthermore, the act of targeting journalists can serve to intimidate journalists, making it harder for them to do their jobs and keep the public informed.

Chris explained how under the Snoopers’ Charter authorities will be able to access data in a variety of ways, including requesting email and phone records from communications providers as well as hacking journalists’ phones and computers. While authorities will require prior authorisation to access this data, unlike requests for physical items such as notebooks, the authorities will not need approval from an independent judge. Furthermore, requests will be made in secret with no right to challenge.

These concerns are not theoretical. In his talk Chris gave numerous examples of how the police, local councils and other authorities have used predecessor terrorist and serious crime powers under RIPA to identify journalists’ sources. Chris also spoke about how the Metropolitan Police have added journalists to their ‘domestic extremism’ database, simply for doing their jobs.

The #IPBill (and journalism) by Paul Bradshaw, Course Leader of Online Journalism MA at Birmingham City University

Paul has very helpfully curated a selection of tweets capturing key points of discuss from the evening.

You may also like to check out the Flipboard magazine Paul has put together with links to the sources quoted in his presentation:

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Take action

After hearing from each of the speaker there was a general discussion about what each of us can do to oppose the Snoopers’ Charter and protect media freedom. Here are three you can do:

Sign the Save Our Sources petition

Email your MP to let them know you oppose the Snoopers’ Charter

Join the National Union of Journalists (if you are a journalist or student journalist)

Protect your online privacy and security

For practical advice on how to protect your online privacy and security, please read our guide:

7 top tips for protecting your online privacy and security

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