Saturday, November 15, 2014

Should "ordinary" journalists and "amateur" bloggers learn PGP encryption for their emails? Maybe

I’ve started reading Glenn Greenwald’s “No Place to Hide” (and the movie “CitizenFour”, Oct, 27, 2014 on the Movies blg) about his interactions with Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras.  I’ll discuss it soon in my “Book Reviews” blog soon, but I wanted to mention now that right off the bat Greenwald mentions the fact that when Snowden first contacted him, Snowden encouraged him to learn how to encrypt his emails.

It’s not real simple to implement PGP (“pretty good privacy”) but here’s one typical tutorial.

Does an “ordinary” journalist need to do this?  First, I suspect that by now big corporate news organizations are providing email encryption, so a more important question could be, do freelance journalists and “amateur” bloggers need to do this?
Well, if they’re working in authoritarian countries or with clients or sources in these countries, probably yes.  (TOR is another discussion.) If they’re totally within the West, in most cases, no, unless the circumstances are dramatic enough, like those in Greenwald’s book.  However, I have received emails from foreign sources in dubious countries on a few occasions.  I don’t promise immunity or anonymity if it is a warning of an attack or crime.  If I did, and if I offered PGP in response, would I get more tips, even given my own operation?  Possibly.  I might get more info in areas that I give special attention to, ranging from power grid security to the Russian anti-gay law.

Greenwald mentions that after his Salon article, filmmaker Laura Poitras found herself under less scrutiny when she traveled.  According to Greenwald, The government regards Wikileaks as a criminal group.  

Another topic, though, worth exploring: to get into real journalism, how do you "pay your dues"?  I hope not by going to Syria.  

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