Strengthening digital safety for journalists

Journalists fearing digital threats can now find a path between feeling either apathetic or immobilised, thanks to a new study by UNESCO titled Building digital safety for journalism: a survey of selected issues.

 

The new report analyses and explains 12 key digital threats to journalism, ranging from hacking of journalistic communications, through to Denial-of-Service attacks on media websites.

It takes an inclusive approach that is relevant to any actor who is in danger of being targeted for doing journalism. Indeed, many points made are also of direct relevance to human rights defenders in general and to people who are sources for journalists.

Journalists are recommended to “acknowledge that security is always a trade-off of resources and prioritize security needs based on individualized risk assessment – avoid the extremes of paranoia on the one hand, and a sense of futility on the other”.

The report advises: “Treat digital hygiene as a habit and practice.” A range of points are provided that cover preventive, protective and pre-emptive steps to protect journalists from digital threats.

Specific recommendations are proposed for governments, technologists, journalism trainers and civil society organisations.

It is underlined that digital security training needs to go beyond technology to empower journalists with knowledge the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, as well as key resolutions passed within the UN system.

The holistic approach to training proposed by the report covers the importance of including pyscho-social considerations in any courses. A chapter on gender in the study assesses how women journalists are especially targeted by digital threats.

The study is published with the support of the Kingdom of Denmark, and appears the fourth in the UNESCO Internet Freedom series. Earlier publications in the series are:

 

Freedom of connection, freedom of expression: the changing legal and regulatory ecology shaping the Internet

This report provides a new perspective on the social and political dynamics behind the threats to expression. It develops a conceptual framework on the ‘ecology of freedom of expression’ for discussing the broad context of policy and practice that should be taken into consideration in discussions of this issue.

English | French | Arabic | Bibliographic reference

 

Global survey on internet privacy and freedom of expression

This publication seeks to identify the relationship between freedom of expression and Internet privacy, assessing where they support or compete with each other in different circumstances. It maps out the issues in the current regulatory landscape of Internet privacy from the viewpoint of freedom of expression, and provides an overview of legal protection, self-regulatory guidelines, normative challenges, and case studies relating to the topic.

English | French | Arabic | Bibliographic reference

 

Fostering freedom online: the role of internet intermediaries

The goal of this report is to shed light on how internet intermediaries – services that mediate online communication – both foster and restrict freedom of expression across a range of jurisdictions, circumstances, technologies,and business models. The authors have applied the ‘protect, respect, and remedy’ framework to the policies and practices of companies representing three intermediary types (internet service providers, search engines, and social networking platforms).

English | Bibliographic reference

 

In order to improve global understanding of emerging safety threats linked to digital developments, UNESCO commissioned this research within the Organization’s on-going efforts to promote freedom of expression online and offline and implement the UN Inter-Agency Plan on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The publication will be launched and presented at a number of international events including the forthcoming UNESCO IPDC Bureau meeting in Paris, 27 March 2015, the  World Press Freedom Day celebration event in Riga, 3 May 2015  and 10th Internet Governance Forum in Brazil, 10-13 November 2015.

Please click here to download Building digital safety for journalism: a survey of selected issues.

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