Protecting Your Sources: Is it Possible to Keep Sources Confidential in the Digital Age?

Talk Tuesday 7 July 2015, 7:00 PM

Acts of journalism should be shielded from targeted surveillance, data retention and handover of material connected to confidential sources. This is a key early finding from a recent study commissioned by UNESCO on the state of journalistic source protection in 121 countries.

Early findings from the study, Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age, authored by Australian journalist and journalism academic Julie Posetti, indicate that legal source protection frameworks in many of the countries studied are outdated and need strengthening. It also shows that they are being eroded by national security and anti-terrorism legislation; undercut by surveillance – both mass and targeted; and jeopardised both by mandatory data retention policies and pressure applied to third party intermediaries to release data.

UNESCO commissioned the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) to undertake the study and Posetti led the project in her capacity as WAN-IFRA Research Fellow.

In an event in partnership with the Foreign Press Association, we will be joined by the author of the study and other experts to discuss the implications of the findings and what needs to be done to ensure journalists can fully protect their sources.

Chaired by journalist, writer and Foreign Press Association President, Paola Totaro.

The panel:

Julie Posetti is an Australian journalist and journalism academic. A former news editor, presenter and political reporter with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Posetti is currently based in Paris as a research fellow with the World Editors Forum and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. She is completing a PhD on “The Twitterisation of Journalism” at the University of Wollongong, Australia, where she teaches social journalism, radio, TV and multimedia storytelling. She recently completed a major UNESCO-commissioned study of journalistic source protection in the digital era in 121 countries for WAN-IFRA.

Gavin Millar QC has a broad practice spanning media, information, public, criminal, employment and discrimination law. He is a noted specialist in all areas of media law including defamation, privacy, breach of confidence, publishing contempts and reporting restrictions. He often represents media outlets, journalists and politicians in both civil and criminal proceedings.

Jonathan Calvert is the longest serving editor of the The Sunday Times’ Insight team in its 50 year history, having held the job for a decade. His first scoop for the team was exposing the cash for questions scandal as an undercover Insight reporter in 1994, and he soon after became investigations editor at The Observer where he oversaw a string of major exclusives. Since returning to The Sunday Times he has headed a long line of exclusives – most recently the Fifa files investigation which made waves around the world.

Paul Myers is a BBC internet research specialist. He joined the BBC in 1995 as a news information researcher. He also runs The Internet Research Clinic, a website dedicated to directing journalists to the best research links, apps and resources. His role in the BBC Academy sees him organise and deliver training courses related to internet investigation, data journalism, freedom of information, reporting statistics, working with social media, web design and image production. He has worked with leading programmes like Panorama, Watchdog, national news bulletins, BBC Online, local & national radio and the World Service.

FPA Logo