Some newly released documents from the Snowden-files indicates that British GCHQ targets journalists. It starts with journalists communications being trawled in during a wider operation in 2008. The Guardian reports…
Emails from the BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Sun, NBC and the Washington Post were saved by GCHQ and shared on the agency’s intranet as part of a test exercise by the signals intelligence agency.
But this is not only done in connection with wider operations. Journalists are being specifically targeted.
New evidence from other UK intelligence documents revealed by Snowden also shows that a GCHQ information security assessment listed “investigative journalists” as a threat in a hierarchy alongside terrorists or hackers.
One restricted document intended for those in army intelligence warned that “journalists and reporters representing all types of news media represent a potential threat to security”.
In a democratic society, the press has an important role to scrutinize what is going on in politics and in the administration. Media freedom is important if we want a reasonably correct picture of current events, for journalists to be truly investigative–and for all of us to be able to properly analyse what our elected representatives are up to.
So, what can we conclude from government surveillance of the media?
The obvious answer is that politicians (and bureaucrats) do not want to be held accountable for their actions. They want to be able to conduct secret policies in the shadows. They fear the truth.
But we cannot have that in a democratic society. If we are not allowed to know what the political ruling class and their little helpers are up to–elections becomes pointless.