Privacy Day 2021: What journalists need to know

Conversations with Data: #66

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Welcome to our latest Conversations with Data newsletter.

Today is Data Privacy Day 2021 and to celebrate the occasion we are proud to announce our latest goodie bag offers solely for members:

  • 1-year free subscription with Tutanota
  • 6-month free secure VPN subscription with IVPN

Take advantage of these latest offers by signing up today and access them via your profile!

Sign up for FREE now.

To mark the day, we assembled a special digital security guide by a panel of experts to help journalists stay safe online. Read the intro to our Q&A below or the full article here.

Topics covered:

  1. The biggest threat to internet privacy for journalists.
  2. Genuinely investigate anonymously online.
  3. Most important aspects of privacy for media professionals to safeguard.
  4. Keeping your personal information secure using cloud storage.
  5. Must-have privacy tools for journalists.
  6. Advice for media professionals to protect their sources and data.
  7. Balance the promotion of their work with their online privacy and safety.

Our panel of privacy and security experts:

What is the biggest threat for journalists when it comes to internet privacy?

Viktor Vecsei (IVPN): The biggest threats journalists face vary – it depends on which country they live in, issues they focus on and the type of adversaries they might face. Each person’s situation is unique. At least basic levels of privacy protection measures must be in place to avoid personal threats from readers disagreeing with their mission, harassment by government officials or getting targeted with disinformation campaigns.

Two distinct areas are important to consider: protecting their identity when doing investigative work or research and protecting their personal privacy when publishing materials and disseminating them on social media. Each requires different tools and techniques and they need to consider how, what and when they access and share to minimise threats.

Sasha Ockenden (Tactical Tech): We are all immersed in technology and data – and the pandemic has only exacerbated this. The major privacy issue for all of us, including journalists, is how to compartmentalise our private and professional activities and make sure that the tools we use for one do not affect the other. For journalists in particular, given the potential consequences of sensitive information being exposed, it is more important than ever to understand how data is collected, stored and (ab)used.

The fast-changing nature of online tools and platforms, and the ways they are regulated in and across different jurisdictions, can make it hard to keep on top of. This is especially the case for those who consider themselves less tech-savvy. Tactical Tech’s Data Detox Kit provides clear suggestions and concrete steps to keep control of all aspects of your online life, make more informed choices and change your digital habits in ways that suit your private and professional lives.

Henk Van Ess (Journalist): The biggest threat is the journalist themselves. Those who say "I have nothing to hide" will inevitably be trolled, embarrassed, cloned, or worse: hacked.

Chris Dufour (Digital security consultant): There is no single "big threat" in terms of a specific piece of malware, hacking technique, or attacker. That's the threat: the internet is iteratively changing and evolving daily, sometimes hourly. As such, it can be virtually impossible to fully secure oneself, and even if you could, there are corollary vulnerabilities in the form of those around you and the information they share about you: your family, friends, coworkers. I believe the biggest threat is the individual's degree of skill and time spent securing themselves against the attack and undue influence.

Valentin Franck (Tutanota): There are several threats to privacy in today’s internet. Journalists are affected by those in particular because they are more likely to hold sensitive information than the regular internet user. First of all, large parts of the internet are tracked by private companies with the primary objective of user profiling in order to sell targeted advertisements. The amount of information gathered by those companies is enormous.

The exposed position of journalists and the fact that they can be multipliers means that it is interesting to learn about and shape their thinking and interests for a wide range of actors. Also, state actors might force private companies to help gather information on a person of interest.

Read the full article here.

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Disinformation comes in all languages. That's why the latest Verification Handbook For Disinformation And Media Manipulation is now available to download in Arabic, English, Italian and Turkish.

A special thanks to the partner organisations who translated the handbook: Al-Jazeera Media Institute for the Arabic translation; Teyit for the Turkish translation; Slow News, Facta and Pagella Politica for the Italian translation.

The handbook was edited by Craig Silverman, published by the European Journalism Centre and supported by the Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

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Our next conversation

Our next Conversations with Data podcast will feature vaccinologist and physician Dr Melvin Sanicas who will discuss the new COVID-19 variants in South Africa, Brazil and the United Kingdom. He will also explain how epidemiological surveillance works and what these new variants mean for the vaccine rollout programmes around the world.

As always, don’t forget to let us know what you’d like us to feature in our future editions. You can also read all of our past editions here.


Tara from the EJC Data team,

bringing you, supported by Google News Initiative.

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