Journalists often face danger, compete with robots, and now may find their sources strangely mum: A joint report disseminated by two human-rights agencies today says that the US government’s relentless surveillance is scaring sources into silence and hampering lawyers’ efforts to protect their clients, reports the AP. The NSA’s aggressive efforts to shut down security leaks in the wake of the Edward Snowden controversy have spooked government officials in their media dealings since "any interaction—any email, any phone call—risks leaving a digital trace that could subsequently be used against them," the report explains, as per Reuters.
More than 90 journalists and attorneys, as well as a handful of "present or retired national security officials," were questioned for the Human Rights Watch and ACLU report. The AP adds that journalists are trying to sneak under the reporting radar by using cheapo prepaid cell phones, encrypting electronic messages, and arranging face-to-face meetings instead of phone calls. More disturbing, however, may be the violation of Americans’ civil rights—something the report hopes can be fended off with better protection for journalists and more transparency about data collection, the AP notes. "The US holds itself out as a model of freedom and democracy, but its own surveillance programs are threatening the values it claims to represent," one of the report’s authors says. (Read more surveillance stories.)