Being a good journalist means learning how to keep a secret

THE ROLE OF JOURNALISTS is to make information public. The irony is that in order to do so, they need to keep lots of things secrets.

They do that in all sorts of ways. Sometimes journalists promise anonymity in order to get officials to divulge what they’re not supposed to reveal. Sometimes they cloak the exchange of sensitive documents. Sometimes they conceal the nature of their stories so that governments can’t censor their work preemptively.

What news organizations don’t worry enough about is keeping the identity of their readers secret. In an era when electronic spycraft is rampant, people who go to a website looking for news can unwittingly endanger themselves just by clicking on a story or video. Governments that know who is accessing specific information can intrude in a variety of ways—by blocking or censoring the story or by targeting individuals who access prohibited information for harassment or even legal action.

As elemental as it is to keep Web-based communication secure, it’s been a largely overlooked subject by many news outlets. That’s beginning to change, thanks to aggressive efforts by advocacy groups to strengthen and reinfforce safety barriers around the Web.

Read more at CJR for story by CPJ director Joel Simon.

Image:  Edgard Garrido


The PGP Word List (“Pretty Good Privacy word list”, also called a biometric word list) is a list of words for conveying data bytes in a clear unambiguous way via a voice channel. They are analogous in purpose to the NATO phonetic alphabet used by pilots, except a longer list of words is used, each word corresponding to one of the 256 unique numeric byte values.

Each byte in a bytestring is encoded as a single word. A sequence of bytes is rendered in network byte order, from left to right. For example, the leftmost (i.e. byte 0) is considered “even” and is encoded using the PGP Even Word table. The next byte to the right (i.e. byte 1) is considered “odd” and is encoded using the PGP Odd Word table. This process repeats until all bytes are encoded. Thus, “E582” produces “topmost Istanbul”, whereas “82E5” produces “miser travesty”.

A PGP public key fingerprint that displayed in hexadecimal as

    E582 94F2 E9A2 2748 6E8B
    061B 31CC 528F D7FA 3F19

would display in PGP Words (the “biometric” fingerprint) as

    topmost Istanbul Pluto vagabond
    treadmill Pacific brackish dictator
    goldfish Medusa afflict bravado
    chatter revolver Dupont midsummer
    stopwatch whimsical cowbell bottomless

The order of bytes in a bytestring depends on Endianness.

Encryption software that makes it hard to spy on what people do and say online is “essential” for free speech, says a United Nations report.
Without anonymising tools, many people will find it far harder to express opinions without censure, it says.
Any attempt to weaken encryption software will only curb this ability, it warns.

The Man Behind An Encrypted Network That Will Take Down Facebook

In this video Luke Rudkowski talks to the CEO and one of many people behind a new opensource encyrpted social network that many are saying will destroy facebook. The new social network took off and gained popularity when anonymous groups started to endorse it and not many people are signing up.
Giving Government 'Backdoor' Access to Encrypted Data Threatens Personal Privacy and National Security
The War on Terror is providing plenty of rhetorical ammunition to anti encryption officials but they are dangerously wrong.

The “Crypto Wars” are here again, which means federal officials are doing all they can to limit the technological tools that keep our personal data secure. President Obama and leaders from the National Security Agency (NSA), FBI, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been pressuring the technology community to build “backdoors” that allow government access to encrypted data.

The War on Terror provides plenty of rhetorical ammunition to these anti-encryption officials, who seem to believe that purposefully sabotaging our strongest defenses against “cyberterrorists” is an effective way to promote national security. But they are dangerously wrong, as recent revelations of decades-old security vulnerabilitiesimposed by encryption restrictions make all too clear.

Encryption allows people to securely send data that can only be accessed by verified parties. Mathematical techniques convert the content of a message into a scrambled jumble, called a ciphertext, which looks like nonsense in electronic transit until it is decoded by the intended recipient. Simple ciphers have been used to secure communications since the days of the Egyptian Old Kingdom, when a particularly devoted scribe took to fancying up the tomb of Khnumhotep II with cryptic funeral prose. Our own Thomas Jefferson regularly used ciphers in communications with James Madison, John Adams, and James Monroe to “keep matters merely personal to ourselves.” …

Encrypt everything, including guacamole recipes.

Making a case for encryption, from guacamole recipes to top-secret documents | IJNet

All journalists, whether they work in conflict zones, investigate corruption or cover local politics, need to learn how to encrypt their digital voice and text communications. Media adversaries, whether governments, criminal organizations, corrupt officials or companies, can now easily hack journalists’ communications, learn sources’ identities, obstruct sensitive investigations and even destroy or alter electronic documents.

Caitlyn Jenner's moving ESPY speech, TLC officially cancels the Duggars, mystery surrounds death of Sandra Bland
  • Caitlyn Jenner's moving ESPY speech, TLC officially cancels the Duggars, mystery surrounds death of Sandra Bland
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Caitlyn Jenner’s moving ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage speech, TLC officially cancels the Duggars, federal officials want access to encrypted emails and texts on private devices, Andy Cohen calls Amandla Stenberg “Jackhole of the day” for rightly criticizing Kylie Jenner’s cornrows, mystery surrounds death of Sandra Bland, a young black woman, in Texas jail, more Maniac Mail, and does saving an animal’s life make you a good Samaritan or a terrorist?

Reminder: Jamie has gigs this week TONIGHT Burlington 7/17 and TOMORROW New Hampshire 7/18!

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FBI's Comey Defies Scientists on Encryption, Prefers Magic Back Door
Comey refused to accept the nearly universal agreement among technologists that there is no way to give the government access to encrypted communications without risking national security.

“How does his head not explode from cognitive dissonance when he repeats he has no tech expertise, then insists everyone who does is wrong?”

Hacking Team Leaks Reveal Spyware Industry’s Growth, Negligence of Human Rights

This week’s document leak from ‪Hacking Team‬ shed light on the human rights implications of the global private surveillance industry. Hacking Team’s clients include a number of regimes known for violating the human rights of their citizens: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. Reporters sans frontières/Reporters Without Borders (RSF) previously identified Hacking Team as one of its “Corporate Enemies of the Internet” in 2013.

Cameron and Encryption

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is quickly backpedaling from claims that his administration wants to ban encryption. While Cameron has previously called for a bill that would put limits on or even ban encrypted communication technologies in the name of national security, his office recently released a statement to Business Insider to clarify that “the Prime Minister did not suggest encryption should be banned.”

Quote Source:
'Just follow the damn Constitution!' FBI, DoJ skewered over demands for crypto backdoors
Apple, Google encryption is giving the people what they want, say politicians

“Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state,” Lieu said.

“Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution. And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this.”

Microsoft’s search engine Bing has announced that it will encrypt all of its search traffic by default this summer. Bing had already offered optional encryption, but soon it will be a default for everyone.

This levels up Bing to match the security standards of the other big search giants like Google and Yahoo, and the added encryption also makes Bing a worthy search engine competitor. Google first made all search encrypted by default in 2013. Yahoo did so in 2014.

—  While this encryption move may seem like a tiny piece of news, it indicates a new shift toward better privacy standards. With Microsoft joining the ranks of Google and Yahoo in terms of security standards, this marks the first time the top three search engines provide privacy by default, making it much more difficult for external snoopers to know what people are searching for.
The Crypto Wars Have Gone Global

Recently, Congress heard testimony about whether or not backdoors should be introduced into encryption technologies, a technically problematic proposal that would fundamentally weaken the security of the Internet, according to a recent report written by eleven of the world’s leading cryptographers. But while Congress is reliving these debates from the nineties (we hear they’re in these days), the Crypto Wars are very much alive and well in other parts of the world.

The United Kingdom, Netherlands and Australia have gone farther than the proposals put forward by the FBI by introducing new regulations that seek to weaken and place limits on the development and use of encryption. These efforts, made ostensibly to protect citizens against terrorism, are likely to have severe economic, political and social consequences for these nations and their citizens, while doing little to protect their security.

According to the cryptographers’ report, encryption in fact has a critical role to play in national security by protecting citizens against malicious threats. The harm to the public that can be presented by lax digital security has been illustrated a number of times over recent months: data breaches such as the hack of the Office of Personnel Management compromised the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, while weak or flawed cryptography led to vulnerabilities such as Logjam and FREAK that compromised the transport layer security protocols used to secure network connections worldwide. Encryption is not only essential to protecting free expression in the digital age—it’s also a critical part of national security.