Combine government bad behaviour and an employee with a conscience and you get a whistleblower. Add a journalist into the mix and you have a recipe for government accountability.
In the technological age, the link between journalist and insider source is very often digital communication. Knowing this, governments all over the world are working hard to track the communications of leakers and the journalists who can make those leaks public.
According to the NSA files leaked by Edward Snowden in June 2013, encrypted email is still a major thorn in the side of government security agencies.
Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who Snowden initially approached with this data trove, was at first reluctant to use encryption. Now, more than a year after the Snowden revelations Greenwald’s recently launched online news outfit, The Intercept, makes secure communication for its journalists and sources its number one priority.
We spoke to journalists and technologists at the forefront of the effort to keep our communications – both the content and its related metadata – unavailable to the governments who might take advantage of them.
With their help, this special edition of the Listening Post introduces systems such as PGP, TOR and SecureDrop – all essential tools for the security conscious journalist and for whistleblowers who want to keep their identities under wraps.
Also in this programme is an interview with the journalist James Ball who once worked alongside Julian Assange at WikiLeaks and, more recently, has played a key role reporting on the Snowden files for the Guardian. Paradoxically, dealing with sensitive government documents on hi-tech surveillance has meant a partial return to old-school, face-to-face communications for Ball and his colleagues.
To find out more about the issues and tools introduced in the programme, visit the Listening Post Facebook page for further information and links.