Australian journalists “lack understanding” of the risks posed to them and their sources by state-sanctioned surveillance, Benedetta Brevini, of University of Sydney, writes. The author reviews the trend in Australian surveillance policy post-9/11 and supplements the analysis with the interviews of 10 journalists.
Recently imposed laws can have a significant chilling effect on journalism seeking to scrutinize officials, Brevini finds. Current laws enable the imprisonment of journalists and their sources for years, if they even accidentally disclose information of certain status – even if the existence of said status is also secret. In effect, journalists will end up avoiding sensitive topics in general to avoid prosecution.
Furthermore, the mandatory retention of metadata by telecommunication companies allows for a relatively easy unveiling of anonymous sources. Despite the mounting risks, journalists appear to be ill-informed on how to securely and effectively handle leaked information, Brevini writes.
The article “Metadata Laws, Journalism and Resistance in Australia” was published by the journal Media and Communication. It is freely available online (open access).
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