Speaking at Mediafabric Conference, Prague, 21 October

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Off tomor­row to speak at the Medi­afab­ric con­fer­ence in Prague. 

Should be a good one — all about the media, journ­al­ists, tech­no­lo­gists, design­ers, hack­ers,  and all points in between!

The con­fer­ence has been organ­ised by Source­fab­ric, and there will be live stream­ing here.

Journalists need to wise up to secrecy laws

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I had a fant­astic time at the Global Invest­ig­at­ive Journ­al­ism Con­fer­ence in Kiev last week­end.  A huge  well done to the organ­isers for a great four days, and I loved hav­ing the chance to meet so many inter­est­ing and inter­ested people from across the world!

I was invited to give the open­ing key­note speech (video to fol­low), where I dis­cussed some of my exper­i­ences from the MI5 whis­tleblow­ing years, but then went on to apply the harsh les­sons learned to the cur­rent situ­ation vis a vis the issue of spy influ­ence on the media today and the thorny issue of whis­tleblow­ing and the pro­tec­tion of sources.

Part of my talk focused on the con­trol of the media by the spies in Bri­tain.  As I have writ­ten before, this is very much a “car­rot and stick” scen­ario: the soft aspect, of course, being cosy chats with selec­ted journ­al­ists, well-timed career-enhancing scoops, as well as an increas­ingly unhealthy journ­al­istic depend­ence on brief­ings com­ing out of the intel­li­gence world and government.

The stick aspect includes the bat­tery of harsh laws that can be called upon to sup­press free report­ing in the UK, which some­times leads to self-censorship by the media.  These laws include:

Beginning_of_trialHow do I know all this?  Well, as you can see from many of the links in the above list, I’ve lived through much of this and have fol­lowed with great interest sim­ilar and related cases over the years.  More inform­a­tion about these issues can be found in this excel­lent report pro­duced by Art­icle 19 and Liberty over a dec­ade ago.  The situ­ation has not improved.

While in Kiev I atten­ded an excel­lent ses­sion where two Rus­sian journ­al­ists dis­cussed the rami­fic­a­tions of report­ing on the mod­ern incarn­a­tion of the Rus­sian intel­li­gence agency, the FSB.

I was some­what startled to hear that even in Rus­sia journ­al­ists have more legal pro­tec­tion than those in the UK — ie they face no crim­inal legal sanc­tion if they report whis­tleblower mater­ial from the Rus­sian spy agen­cies.  In the UK journ­al­ists poten­tially face 2 years in prison for doing so, under the invi­di­ous Sec­tion 5 of the 1989 OSA.

Way to go, Brit­ish democracy.

Global Investigative Journalism Conference, Kiev

Off to do a key­note at the Global Invest­ig­at­ive Journ­al­ism Con­fer­ence in Kiev.   Should be inter­est­ing — watch this space.

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