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rage

Dan Gillmor says journalists are uninformed about who controls the platforms they publish on

The Arizona State professor is working on a book project that also looks at journalists’ poor understanding of online security.

Dan Gillmor is writing a book (maybe), and he has a lot of questions. The project, which will probably be self published, will probably be called Permission Taken. Gillmor already owns that domain, so why not, he said in a talk at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society last week. (Also, his agent likes the title.)

Gillmor says he’s been thinking about the project for about a year, and he’s come up with a list of questions that he wants academics and practitioners around the country to help him answer. When Gillmor looks at the technologies, services, and platforms most of us use everyday and take for granted, he asks, in slide lingo,

KVESTIONS

The answers are not always clear.

Gillmor’s goal with the new book is a pedagogical one — he said he considers his students (at Arizona State University) to be his primary audience. He intends for the first few chapters to be a primer for the digitally barely literate on how to protect privacy and shore up digital security in day-to-day life. Some of the later chapters, however, will delve deeper into the nitty gritty.

Some of the ideas that will become a part of the new book Gillmor shared back in October at a symposium on digital ethics hosted by Poynter. Gillmor and other presenters also contributed essays to a book, The New Ethics of Journalism: A Guide for the 21st Century, to be published in July.

Generally, Gillmor doesn’t think anyone is fully aware of how vulnerable they are, technologically speaking. Build a back door into every new technology so the FBI can keep an eye on things, he says, “and I promise you it’s going to be used by criminals. The more you unharden the fences, the more room there is for really bad actors.”

Gillmor is especially concerned about how little he says journalists know about security and the extent to which they retain control over their content once it’s published online. “I ask, why are you pouring your journalism into Facebook where you don’t control it anymore? Why are you putting it on other people’s platforms?” In his slide deck, Gillmor gives the example of a New Yorker cartoon that caused Facebook to temporarily ban the magazine from their site — thereby claiming an unprecedented level of control over what is and isn’t acceptable in publishing.

Facebook is a particular concern of Gillmor’s, and he points to a tweet in his slideshow in which Loic le Meur quotes a friend employed by Facebook as saying “we’re like electricity.” “Is Facebook a utility?” asks Gillmor. “What do we do with utilities? We regulate them. Monopolies need regulation. I’m not a fan of regulation, but we have to think about that.”

Gillmor expressed similar concerns in his October talk about the level of control held by payment processors. Whether because of pressure from the government or an internal decision, Gillmor says, if the processor deems your content unacceptable, “then you won’t get paid.” But what journalists really don’t like, Gillmor told me, is when he asks them why they insist on building iOS apps that cede control of what is and isn’t journalism to Apple. In terms of distribution, they say they have no other option — and even journalists who have considered other options say the risk is worth it.

But some risks are never worth it. “Journalists need to learn more about security right away,” says Gillmor. “They are threatening the lives of their sources if they don’t.” In a recent column about the Harvard cheating scandal, in which the university admitted to scanning portions of employee emails, Gillmor showed exactly what can happen when a news outlet doesn’t know enough about how to protect their sources.

It’s not just employees and others who want to blow whistles who need to be more careful — such as using external accounts, encryption and a lot of other tools to be safer. (Note: I didn’t say “safe”, because absolute safety is exceedingly hard to achieve, if it’s even possible.)

Journalists, too, need better tradecraft when it comes to their dealings with sources. My impression of the typical newsroom’s precautions is that there aren’t many.

For six years as a columnist, Gillmor used a PGP at the bottom of each page — a safe, encrypted method by which sources could contact him. He said in six years, it was used twice — once by someone just checking to see if it worked.

For journalists, Gillmor recommends Tor, “a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.” (Committee to Protect Journalists when it comes to educating journalists about the dangers of using certain technologies.

But ultimately, Gillmor says, “It’s a crucial issue — and one that has not gotten enough attention inside the craft.” These issues fall very low on the priority list for an industry that Gillmor described as being in a constant state of desperation. But the dangers are real, Gillmor says, and with his new project, he hopes to find ways of bringing the convenience of private platforms to services that are both free and secure.

For now, though, “increasingly, journalists who really are appropriately paranoid in the right situations are learning not to use technology,” says Gillmor.

If you have a better idea, Gillmor is taking questions — and hopefully, answers.

Photo by f1uffster (Jeanie) used under a Creative Commons license.

                                   
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  • msfreeh

    Court Decision: U.S. “Government Agencies” Found Guilty in Martin Luther King’s Assassination
    Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tennessee Thirtieth Judicial District at Memphis, December 1999
    By Carl Herman
    Global Research, January 22, 2013
    Washington’s Blog 21 January 2013

    Coretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.

    From the King Center on the family’s civil trial that found the FBI guilty in Martin’s assassination:

  • msfreeh

    Books dealing with crimes committed by FBI agents.

    READING LIST
    annotated bibliography

    Aaronson, Trevor. The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism
    Ig Publishing Brooklyn New York 2013
    Exposes how the FBI has, under the guise of engaging in counterterrorism since 9/11, built a network of more than 15,000 informants whose primary purpose is to infiltrate Muslim communities to create and facilitate phony terrorist plots so that the Bureau can then claim it is winning the war on terror.

    Bari, Judi. TIMBER WARS. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1994.
    The F.B.I. attempted to stop the political activity of Judi Bari and Daryl Cherney by exploding a
    bomb under their car. Daryl Cherney and Judi Bari filed a Civil lawsuit
    against the FBI and Oakland police. A jury awarded them $4.4 million
    dollars in 2003. see http://www.judibari.org

    Bowen Roger. INNOCENCE IS NOT ENOUGH: The Life and Death of Herbert Norman
    New York USA M.E. Sharpe Inc 1988
    Looks at FBI assassination of Herbert Norman, Canadian Ambassador to Egypt.

    Buitrago, Ann Mari. F.B.I. FILES. Grove Press, 1981.
    Covers the procedures for obtaining and interpreting your F.B.I. file.

    Burnham, David. ABOVE THE LAW. Scribner, 1996.
    Looks at secret deals and fixing of cases by the Justice Department for corporations.
    Burnham was the New York Times reporter who broke the story about New York City cop Serpico and Police corruption.
    He was the reporter on route to meet Karen Silkwood when she was found murdered. Read his other book A LAW UNTO ITSELF.
    It details how FBI agents collaborate with the IRS to target political activists.
    see his important website about the FBI
    here http://trac.syr.edu/

    Burnham, David A LAW UNTO ITSELF Vintage January 30, 1991 ISBN-10: 0679732837
    Exposes FBI agents using the IRS to cripple political activists.

    Buttino, Frank. A SPECIAL AGENT. William Morrow, 1993.
    Investigates F.B.I. attacks on gay FBI agents .
    This book is written by a FBI agent who is gay. It details how other FBI
    agents tormented him .

    Carson, Clayborne. MALCOLM X: THE F.B.I. FILE. Carroll & Graf, 1991.
    Looks at the evidence for the F.B.I. assassination of Malcolm X.

    Cashill,Jack, Sanders,James. FIRST STRIKE Thomas Nelson Press, 2003
    Overwhelming evidence presented by Dr. Cashill on the downing of TWA
    Flight 800 by a missle over Long Island and the ensuing cover-up by FBI
    agents.One of my favorite books. see their documentary about the same
    subject called SILENCED here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44uu4zWQEEs

    Charns, Alexander. CLOAK AND GAVEL. University of Illinois Press. 1992.
    After reviewing thousands of pages of FBI documents the attorney author
    exposes the FBI illegal phone tapping of the Supreme Court and how the
    FBI fix court cases and work behind the scenes to get “their man”
    appointed to the Supreme Court. Written by a lawyer active in Human
    Rights.

    Churchill, Ward. AGENTS OF REPRESSION. South End Press, 1988.
    Professor Churchill gives first hand accounts of F.B.I. death squad
    activities. This book is a classic and is a must read along with THE
    COINTELPRO PAPERS

    Churchill, Ward. THE COINTELPRO PAPERS. South End Press, 1990.
    Explores how the F.B.I. disrupts legitimate political activities and engage in Death Squad activities.

    Criley, Richard. THE F.B.I. VS. THE FIRST AMENDMENT. First Amendment Foundation, 1990.
    Looks at the destruction of the First Amendment by the F.B.I.

    Davis, John. MAFIA KINGFISH: CARLOS MARCELLO AND THE ASSASSINATION OF JOHN F.
    KENNEDY. McGraw-Hill, 1989.
    A must read book in understanding how the FBI has used the Mafia to carry out the assassination of President Kennedy.

    De Camp, John. THE FRANKLIN COVERUP. AWT Publishers, 1992.
    A former Republican state senator from Nebraska writes about a
    pedophile ring involved in the kidnaping, sexual torture and murder of
    children that went all the way to the Bush White House.
    Attorney DeCamp discusses the FBI role in the coverup of this case and
    the murder of a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the
    pedophile ring.This book will keep you awake at night and is an active
    barometer for evil indexing how the FBI crime family operates.

    Dempsey, James X. and David Cole. TERRORISM AND THE CONSTITUTION: SACRIFICING CIVIL
    LIBERTIES IN THE NAME OF NATIONAL SECURITY. Los Angeles, CA: First Amendment
    Foundation, 1999. Examines FBI campaign of terror to undermine civil
    liberties. Attorney Dempsey worked for Congressman Don Edwards who was
    a former FBI agent.

    Diamond, Sigmund. COMPROMISED CAMPUS. Oxford University Press, 1992.
    Professor Diamond attempts to get F.B.I. files showing collaboration
    between F.B.I. agents and professors at universities from 1945-1955.
    The FBI created the Patriot Act , in part, because of this book.

    Donner, Frank. PROTECTORS OF PRIVILEGE. University of California Press, 1990.
    Looks at the death squad collaboration between local police and F.B.I. agents to stifle the Bill of Rights.

    Dwyer, James. TWO SECONDS UNDER THE WORLD. Diane publishers 1997.
    The most important book you will read on understanding FBI agents Floyd
    and Anticev creating the 1993 terrorist act at the World Trade Center.
    This book lays out in detail how the FBI engineered
    the 1993 World Trade Center explosion.

    Edmonds, Sibel D Classified Woman-The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir
    2012 Sibel D Edmonds publisher
    In this startling new memoir, former FBI agent/analyst Sibel Edmonds—the most classified woman in U.S. history—takes us on a surreal journey that begins with the secretive FBI and down the dark halls of a feckless Congress to a stonewalling judiciary and finally, to the national security whistleblowers movement she spearheaded.

    Emerson, Steven and Brian Duffy. THE FALL OF PAN AM 103. G.B. Putnam’s Sons, 1990.
    Oliver Revell was the number 2 man at the F.B.I. until he was demoted
    by F.B.I. Director William Sessions to the Dallas Field Office. His son
    Chris Revell had tickets for Pan Am 103, but he changed his flight two days before the plane
    exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. See Ross Gelbspan’s book, BREAK-INS,
    DEATH THREATS AND THE FBI to get a fuller picture of Oliver Revell.

    Flannery, Greg . REACH OUT AND TAPE SOMEONE . In These Times Magazine
    March 1989 issue
    This article appeared in the March issue of the national publication IN THESE TIMES.
    It details the massive illegal FBI wiretap program
    placed on US Presidents, members of Congress, Judges, people of color, local politicians during the 1970′s thru the 1980′s. This was before the Patriot Act.
    More important it details how FBI agents working with local police were committing voter fraud and arson.
    see https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://64.62.200.70/PERIODICAL/PDF/InTheseTimes-1989mar22/12-14/

    Foerstel, Herbert. SURVEILLANCE IN THE STACKS. Greenwood Press, 1991.
    Looks at attempts by the F.B.I. to get librarians to spy on the American public .The FBI created the Library Clauses in the Patriot Act because of this book.

    Gallagher, Dorothy. ALL THE RIGHT ENEMIES. Penguin Books, 1988.
    The F.B.I. utilized the Mafia to carry out its executions against Presidents and political activists from 1930 through 2000.
    Carlos Tresca was one of their victims.

    Gelbspan, Ross. BREAK- INS, DEATH THREATS, AND THE F.B.I. South End Press, 1991.
    This Pulitzer Prize winning reporter formerly with the Boston Globe,
    details the F.B.I. death squad collaboration with the death squads in
    El Salvador and their attacks upon American groups opposed to those
    death squads.

    Glick, Brian. WAR AT HOME. South End Press, 1989.
    Attorney Glick details the F.B.I.’s covert war against political activists.

    Goulet, Donald Chesuncook Author House 2008
    Autobiography of a FBI agent plagued by mental illness.

    Hoffman, David. THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING AND THE POLITICS OF TERROR. Feral
    House, 1998.
    Contains detailed evidence about the FBI alliance with the terrorist
    underworld, and how FBI agent provocateurs are behind many of the
    current bombings that have plagued the United States since the fall of
    the Berlin Wall. Some current thinking has FBI agents creating these
    acts to fill the void caused by the downfall of communism and replacing
    communism with the new boogeyman Islam.

    Holland, Max . Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat
    Deep Throat FBI Supervisor Mark Felt, the number two guy in the FBI during Watergate, was leaking, not out of concern for public good but rather because he was angry he was not getting the top spot in the bureau
    University Press Kansas 2012

    Hougan, Jim. SPOOKS. William Morrow, 1978.
    Important book detailing the life of former F.B.I. agent Robert Maheux
    and his relationship with the Mafia. Groundbreaking book in
    understanding FBI collaboration with the Mafia, using it to carry out
    assassinations on President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and others.
    Maheux was the liason between the Mafia and the FBI when the FBI assassinated President Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

    Kaiser, Marty . Odyssey of an Eavesdropper( My Life in electronic
    countermeasures and my battle against the FBI) W Carroll & Graf 2005
    Author exposes wiretapping crimes committed by FBI agents as well as
    Business Fraud. He built the wiretapping devices for FBI agents that
    were later used in crimes committed against people like Martin Luther
    King and public officials.After exposing FBI agents kickback schemes to
    Congress the author became a target of retaliation by tax payer funded
    FBI agents. see http://www.martykaiser.com/odyssey2.htm

    Keith, Jim. OK BOMB. Illuminate, 1996.
    Explores FBI coverup in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.

    Kelly, John F. TAINTING EVIDENCE. The Free Press 1998. The book is
    based on testimony of FBI lab Whistleblower Dr. Frederick Whitehurst ,
    an employee of the FBI for 17 years. Shows how bad the FBI Lab is run.
    Dr. Whitehurst was the chemist who analyzed Timothy McVeigh’s clothes
    for traces of ammonium nitrate and was removed from the case when he
    did not find any bomb residue.
    see
    http://www.whistleblowers.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=65&Itemid=108

    Lehr, Dick & O’Neill, Gerard. BLACK MASS. Public Affairs, 2000.
    Looks at the FBI’s collaboration in Boston with the Mafia and Irish Mob
    between 1960 and 2001 in which they collaborated in the murder of 21
    women,children and men. Important book showing how the FBI uses the
    Mafia to commit political and other assassinations .see
    http://www.thebrothersbulger.com/

    Lindauer, Susan Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq 2010 Susan Lindauer publisher
    More evidence showing the FBI, CIA and other government agencies created 911.
    What if the government decided to invent a great lie to justify a disastrous war and a questionable anti-terrorism policy? What would happen to the people who know the truth? EXTREME PREJUDICE delivers an explosive, high tension expose of the real facts surrounding the CIA’s advance warnings of 9/11 and an insider’s look at Pre-War Intelligence, told by one of the very few U.S. Assets covering Iraq before the War.

    McGhee , Millie WHAT’S DONE IN THE DARK Allen Morris 2005
    The author is a afro american relative of FBI Director J Edgar Hoover
    who is successful in presenting evidence that FBI Director Hoover is part African-American and related to her.
    The book details the research conducted by Ms McGhee and how FBI agents tried to stop her from writing the book. Photographs show reunion of white and black relatives united by the research in this book. FBI Director J Edgar Hoover was the descendant of Mississippi slaves.

    Melanson, Phillip. THE MURKIN CONSPIRACY. Praeger, 1989.
    Professor Melanson looks at the F.B.I.’s role in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Melanson, Phillip. THE ROBERT KENNEDY ASSASSINATION. Shapolsky, 1991.
    Professor Melanson was in charge of the Robert Kennedy archives at the University of Massachusetts.
    He detailed the F.B.I.’s role as one of the principal architects in the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

  • ASU Student

    As a student at ASU, while I agree Mr. Gillmor is somewhat knowledgeable about this subject, I struggle with the idea he’s writing his book for students. He’s writing it for him, and attention. He does not engage with students unless absolutely necessary, and has a reputation for getting up on a soap box with ear plugs in. On this issue he frequently waxes paranoid-ly. Yes most journalists need to learn more about digital rights and privacy, but he also needs to acknowledge sometimes they thoughtfully weigh pros and cons and simply make concessions. He acts like journos who don’t follow his old school standards aren’t informed of the nuances, or are just stupid.