Journalists, and their sources, have a lot to lose.
And several recent cases have made clear just how easy it is for the government to access electronic communications, with or without a subpoena.
Thankfully, there are a host of free, relatively easy-to-use tools at your disposal to help protect your privacy when sending and receiving emails, as well as browsing the Internet and chatting.
“Encryption technology is like putting your message in an envelope before you send it,” said Susan E. McGregor, assistant director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, in a phone interview.
One of the benefits of using “crypto,” McGregor said, is the government must notify you if pursuing your communications as a means of having them decrypted.
But because the use of these programs is not yet widespread, email encryption is a “cumbersome” process that requires multiple programs, she said.
Still, McGregor added, “there are so many people out there who really want to help journalists do this and do this right.”
Practical tips from Jeremy Barr on how to start sending encrypted emails to protect yourself online and your sources’ identities.