The search of a journalist’s phone in detention exemplifies the threat digital forensics technologies pose to privacy and press freedom around the world. In Botswana, journalists recount the frightening state of government surveillance, powered by international technology companies.
Freelancers are often on their own when it comes to security, both physical and digital, but there are many helpful resources. Help on many topics is available in the resources listed below, and even more are included in these GIJN resource pages:
Safety and Security
Emergency Aid for Journalists
Working with Your Employer
A first safety step for freelancers should be to see what your publisher will do. For risky assignments insurance may be advisable. Ask whether you are covered under the publisher’s plan. If you are covered, that’s great, but there are some important nuances to check on.
The investigative team behind a story in The Washington Post that focused on two military helicopters that roared over demonstrators in Washington, DC on June 1 shared the exploratory scripts used to analyze and visualize flight data for the aircraft which monitored protesters in the city that day.
The Global Investigative Journalism Network condemns attacks by law enforcement on journalists in the US covering protests of the police killing of George Floyd. “The attacks on, and intimidation of, journalists legitimately covering protests and social unrest in the US are unconstitutional and unlawful,” stated the executive committee of the GIJN Board of Directors. “These attacks… threaten the very core of a free and democratic society.”
The New York Times’ Privacy Project highlighted the alarmingly unregulated activity of location data companies collecting data from millions of smartphone users. As the coronavirus pandemic sheds further light on the uses and misuses of location tracking, here’s a deeper look at the project that visualized phones being tracked around the US, from the Pentagon and the White House to the streets of San Francisco.
Italy’s first center for investigative reporting was created in 2012 with very little resources. Since then it has become a well-established player in the Italian media landscape. The group has grappled with financial challenges, threats, and intimidation, but have big plans for the future. Michele Barbero profiled Investigative Reporting Project Italy for GIJN.
Throughout history, whistleblowers have played an important role in bringing corruption, fraud, waste, and other improprieties to light worldwide. But journalists face serious challenges in doing this kind of reporting, especially when it involves world leaders and the federal intelligence community.
GIJN asked investigative journalists around the world to look ahead at what’s in store for 2020. Here are the trends, key forces, and challenges they expect will affect investigative and data journalism in the coming year, as well as the new skills and approaches we should be thinking about.
Journalists for the Daily Trust in Nigeria told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the military conducted forensic searches on their computers and mobile phones following the publication of a story about a military operation. CPJ’s Jonathan Rozen writes that these raids are emblematic of a global trend of law enforcement seizing journalists’ phones and computers — some of their most important tools.
Getting information from official or unofficial sources lies at the heart of investigative journalism. This section of the GIJN/NAJA guide covers:
How to make official requests for information
How to work with whistleblowers
How to protect yourself
Using Access Laws to Get Information
Information laws are key prying devices in the investigative toolkit. However, the unique legal status of Indigenous governmental bodies may result in unique challenges when pursuing open information requests with these entities. The freedom of information laws of the United States and Canada do not cover tribal nations and few tribes have adopted their own access laws. There are also nuances in national laws.