Experts: Press threatened by cybersnooping

Government cybersurveillance poses threat to freedom of the press

New government surveillance powers pose a grave threat to the freedom of the press, according to privacy experts, who will hold a forum next month to highlight the dangers to the press of new legislation.

The UK government has recently granted wide powers to law enforcement concerning surveillance of Internet communications in the form of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act.

At a forum entitled Living with RIP -- A Journalists Guide to Surviving Cyberregulation, held at the ICA next month, experts in computer privacy will school Internet journalists on how to protect themselves and their sources from the threat of online government spying. The event is being sponsored by the Courseleader.com and NetMedia 2000.

The event will outline ways in which members of the press can legally protect themselves and their sources using up-to-date technology such as encryption and steganography to secure computer communications.

RIP gives law enforcers the power to monitor email communications using traffic monitoring tools installed at ISPs and to demand that messages be decrypted as part of their investigations. Importantly, argue the creators of this forum, authorities also now have the power to imprison suspects if they reveal that they have been forced to hand over encryption keys and are under surveillance.

"The RIP Act is the most serious threat to the ability of UK journalists to operate freely in the public interest," says NetMedia 2000 director Milverton Wallace. "The seminar will offer journalists practical advice on the steps they can take to protect the integrity of their online communications."

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