Digital Security For Journalists


“The only successful, robust way to address problems that involve personal responsibility and behavior is with social rather than technological tools. If we instead try and restrict behavior technologically… the only result will be an arms race that nobody wins.”
–Dr. Greg Jackson58

The legal and tehnical infrastructure of today’s digital communication systems has enormous implications for journalistic source protection, and keeping our industry on stable footing given the ever-shifting ground at the intersection of these two fields will require significant education, organization and innovation from the journalistic profession as whole.

The recommendations presented here can neither be outsourced nor implemented overnight. But by pursuing the education of our colleagues, the coordination of our institutions, and collabortion with the digital security field, we can provide better protection to our sources and ourselves. Only by doing this can we protect our ability to hold power accountable, serve the public, and honor in practice the spirit of existing shield protections.

Perhaps even more than this, the journalism industry can help support those working for the freedom of the press all over the world by using and innovating around secure, usable digital communication tools. Only through long-term partnerships and/or the support of a recognized market can truly sustainable solutions be developed; journalistic organizations can and should be that market, for their own sake as well as the public’s. The collective force and voice of our industry can help spur not only the technical but the legal changes that will help all users recapture their fundamental rights to privacy, freedom of association, and freedom of expression. If we are not willing to vigorously and emphatically fight for these rights, we may soon find that we no longer recognize ourselves as either a profession, or a nation.