Politics

Report Says Government Surveillance Harms Journalists, Lawyers

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Washington, DC – Scripps Howard Foundation Wire – The joint report by the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the effect large-scale U.S. surveillance has on journalists and lawyers.

The report, based on interviews with 42 lawyers and 46 journalists who cover intelligence, national security and law enforcement, explored how government surveillance affects the ability of the two groups to do their jobs. Alex Sinha, the report’s author and an Aryeh Neier Fellow at the Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, also interviewed five former and current government officials with knowledge of surveillance programs to provide context for the report.

“Much of the debate about government surveillance up until now has focused on abstract privacy harms,” Sinha said. “While those harms are important, this report documents for the first time certain concrete, tangible harms resulting from large-scale surveillance.”

Sinha focused on journalists and lawyers because both encounter situations when they need to uphold source or client confidentiality. This has become more difficult because government bodies such as the National Security Agency have the ability to collect metadata – information about communications, including where callers are located.

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