Whistleblowing, Journalists' Sources and Surveillance Timeline
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DateTheme DescriptionLink
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2000
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26-07-2000Journalists' SourcesThe Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) passes in Parliament. The legislation allows for the interception and surveillance of communications by a range of public bodies including the intelligence agencies, the police and local councils. RIPA (2000)
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2008
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19-06-2008Journalists' FreedomMalik v Manchester Crown Court [2008] EWHC 1362 (Admin) heard after journalists Shiv Malik and Richard Watson were ordered by police to disclose terrorism-related material.Malik v Manchester Crown Court [2008] EWHC 1362
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28-11-2008Journalists' FreedomSally Murrer, a journalist on the Milton Keynes Citizen newspaper, is cleared of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office by leaking confidential information to media. The prosecution was ended when key evidence against Murrer was deemed inadmissible, and in breach of her rights under the Human Rights Act and the ECHR. Later evidence revealed her car was bugged in 2006, by the police, under the authority of RIPAPress Gazette
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2009
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6/12/09Journalists' SourcesJournalist Suzanne Breen refuses to hand over Real IRA sources to Irish Court claiming that her life would be in danger.Belfast Telegraph
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15-12-2009Journalists' SourcesIn Financial Times v UK (App no 821/03), the European Court of Human Rights finds that the UK courts were not sufficiently protective of journalists’ sources and did not take adequate account of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ruling mirrors previous judgments by the ECHR. Financial Times v UK (App no 821/03)
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2010
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1/5/10Wikileaks/ManningUS intelligence analyst Bradley [Chelsea] Manning downloads 400,000 US miltiary field reports from Iraq onto CD-RW - the Iraq War Logs
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1/8/10Wikileaks/ManningUS intelligence analyst Bradley [Chelsea] Manning downloads 91,000 documents related to war in Afghanistan - the Afghan War Logs.
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25-07-2010WikileaksMore than 90,000 classified US military incidents and intelligence reports (Sigacts) from Afghanistan between 2004-2010 are released by Wikileaks.Afghan War Diary (Wikileaks)
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4/5/10WikileaksWikileaks releases 'Collateral Murder' video which shows a deadly attack by a US Apache helicopter in Baghdad in July 2007.Collateral Murder Film
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26-05-2010Wikileaks/ManningSuspected Wikileaks whistleblower PFC Bradley [Chelsea] Manning, 22, is arrested by the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division in IraqWired Report
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29-07-2010Wikileaks/ManningBradley [Chelsea] Manning is transferred to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia
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22-10-2010Wikileaks391,832 previously secret US military field reports - the Iraq war logs - released by Wikileaks.Iraq War Logs (Wikileaks)
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28-11-2010WikileaksWikileaks releases more than 250,000 US Diplomatic Cables.Guardian Report
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2011
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11/2/11Journalists' FreedomFrance’s interior ministry admits that spies had illegally targeted Le Monde reporter Gérard Davet’s calls to protect President Nicolas Sarkozy from corruption allegations.Telegraph Report
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2012
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2/2/12Journalists' SourcesThree Fairfax journalists in Australia are ordered by the NSW Supreme Court to reveal their confidential sources for a series of stories about a relationship between a Chinese-Australian businesswoman and a federal Labor MP. Justice Lucy McCallum said a journalist's pledge to keep a confidential source ''is not a right or an end in itself'' and could be overridden ''in the interests of justice''.Sydney Morning Herald
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2013
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13-05-2013Journalists' FreedomThe US Justice Department subpoenaes telephone records for more than 20 AP phone lines – thought to be in connection with the AP’s coverage of a CIA operation in YemenReuters Report
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6/3/13Wikileaks/ManningMilitary Trial of Bradley [Chelsea] Manning begins
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6/6/13SnowdenGuardian Newspaper publishes first story on global surveillance of NSA and other intelligence agencies after NSA documents were leaked by former NSA Contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward SnowdenGuardian Report
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6/7/13SnowdenA second story reveals the use of the PRISM programme which enabled the NSA to directly access data from nine major internet companies including Google, Apple and FacebookGuardian Report
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21-06-2013SnowdenGuardian reveals that GCHQ processes vast quanitites of personal information from access to communication cables. The information is shared with the NSAGuardian Report
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23-06-2013SnowdenEdward Snowden boards a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow after US files espionage charges against him
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30-07-2013Wikileaks/ManningBradley [Chelsea] Manning found guilty of 17 of 22 counts in United States vs Manning. United States of America v. Manning, Bradley E., PFC
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8/1/13Journalists' FreedomNew Zealand journalist Andrea Vance discovered her phone records had been accessed by the New Zealand parliamentary service and held on a Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet serverStuff Article
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21-08-2013Wikileaks/ManningBradley [Chelsea] Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison.
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1/8/13SnowdenDavid Miranda, the partner of the journalist Glenn Greenwald, detained under paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 7
to the Terrorism Act 2000 for nine hours at Heathrow airport. He was carrying encrypted NSA files leaked to Edward Snowden.
Guardian Report
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29-10-2013Snowden/LegislationUSA FREEDOM Act introduced in both houses of US Congress ostensibly to end the bulk data collection of US citizens by the NSA.Summary of Freedom Act
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2014
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16-07-2014WhistleblowingThe UK Public Accounts Committee reports on whistleblowing. It concludes that "far too often whistleblowers have been shockingly treated, and whistleblowers who have come forward have had to show remarkable bravery. Departments' own attempts at changing whistleblowing policy and processes for the better have not been successful in modifying a bullying culture, or in combating unacceptable behaviour, such as harassment of whistleblowers, within their organisations."PAC Report
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9/11/14Journalists' SourcesPress Gazette and NUJ launch camapaign to "Save our Sources" after use of RIPA by police forces to obtain journalists' phone records.Press Gazette
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10/5/14Journalists' SourcesPolice officers found to have used RIPA to intercept the communications of Mail on Sunday journalist in order to track down judge-protected source who exposed MP Chris Huhne's speeding points fraud.Mail Online Report
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11/5/14LuxLeaksInternational Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) releases LuxLeaks investigation exposing tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg. Whistleblowers provide 28,000 documents on tax rulings which enable nearly 340 companies to reduce global tax bill.LuxLeaks Database
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12/9/14LuxLeaksICIJ reveals around 30 new large companies benefiting from tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg. ICIJ Luxemburg Leaks Project Page
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2015
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2/4/15Journalists' SourcesThe Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Anthony May finds that the Home Office rules for using RIPA did not “provide adequate safeguards to protect journalistic sources.” IOCCO Statement
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22-04-2015Journalists' SourcesAl Qaeda source "Muhannad Ghallab" killed in US drone strike after possibly being tracked through use of communications devices.The Intercept Article
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6/2/15Snowden/LegislationUSA FREEDOM Act becomes lawFull text of Freedom Act
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11/4/15Investigatory Powers BillThe draft of the Investigatory Powers BillDraft Investigatory Powers Bill
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25-11-2015Journalists' SourcesThe Interception of Communications Commissioner rules that Police Scotland obtained communications data without judicial approval on five occasions in order to find out information on four journalist's sources. Journalist Eamon O Connor was investigating the inquiry into the murder of Emma Caldwell in 2005.BBC News report
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15-12-2015Investigatory Powers BillWritten Evidence Submitted to the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers BillWritten Evidence
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17-12-2015Journalists' SourcesThe Investigatory Powers Tribunal rules that the Metropolitan Police had breached Sun reporter Craig Woodhouse’s human rights and those of two other reporters - political editor Tom Newton Dunn and reporter Anthony France - by accessing their phone records using RIPA. The Police had been trying to track down the 'Plebgate' mole. Guardian Report
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2016
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19-01-2016SnowdenJudgement in Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWCA Civ 6 upholds lawfulness of the David Miranda's detention at Heathrow Airport in 2013 in the immediate instance, but rules that the stop powers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act are not subject to sufficient legal safeguards to comply with Article 10.Miranda v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWCA Civ 6
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27-01-2016Journalists' FreedomsA revised code of practice for the Interception of Communications Data under Section 71 of RIPA is published by the Home Office. The code of practice stated that special consideration should be given to cases where warrants might be used to intercept confidential journalistic information. Interception of Communications: Code of Practice 2016
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3/1/16Investigatory Powers BillGovernment's "Response to Pre-Legislative Scrutiny" published. Highlights that police requests to identify journalists' sources must be approved by a judge.Government Publication
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3/4/16WhistleblowingPublic Accounts Committee publishes: "Making a whistleblowing policy work: progress update" The report states: "We are concerned that the Government’s response to the previous committee’s report on whistleblowing has been too focused on policy and process, rather than on taking the lead to drive the much needed cultural change required to encourage and support whistleblowers to come forward."PAC Report
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4/11/16Investigatory Powers BillNUJ calls for amendments to Investigatory Powers Bill to protect journalists' sources.NUJ Briefing
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27-04-2016WhistleblowingUS Congress passes the Defend Trade Secrets Act. The Act includes a provision to protect whistleblowers who report legal violations to the government. Defend Trade Secrets Act
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6/2/16Investigatory Powers BillInvestigatory Powers Bill: Committee Stage ReportHouse of Commons Briefing Paper
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6/8/16Trade Secrets/EU LawEuropean Commission adopts Trade Secrets Directive harmonising law on trade secrets in EU countries. Critics argue journalists and whistleblowers could be prosecuted under the legislation.European Commission Trade Secrets Directive
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27-06-2016Investigatory Powers BillLord Rosser (Lab) summarises protections for whisteblowers that have been included in amendments to Investigatory Powers Bill at Second Reading in House of LordsHansard, Column 1366
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30-06-2016Investigatory Powers BillGovernment factsheet outlines protections for journalists in the BillGovernment Factsheet
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30-06-2016Journalists' FreedomClassified rules obtained by The Intercept reveal that the FBI only have to have approval from two internal officials to access the phone records of journalists. Far less rigorous than usual judicial oversight.The Intercept Article
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7/5/16Whistleblowing/Freedom of ExpressionThe Digital Economy Bill is published. Critics express concern that Chapter 5, Clause 33 on the disclosure of personal information is not compatible with Article 10 of the ECHR.Digital Economy Bill, Ch 5, 33.
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7/7/16Journalists' FreedomGerman NGO Reporters Without Borders asked the Bundestag to amend a bill which it says will empower Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), to place foreign journalists under surveillanceReporters Without Borders
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7/7/16Investigatory Powers BillGovernment publishes "At a glance" table of "Protections for freedom of expression and journalist sources under the Investigatory Powers Bill"Government Table (pdf)
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7/11/16Investigatory Powers BillLords discuss protections for journalists' sources in the Bill after Amendment 25 is proposed by Viscount Colville of Colruss. The amendment is withdrawn.Hansard, Column 67 - 81
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18-7-2016Journalists' SourcesThe National Assembly in France votes for a legislative amendment to a proposal on freedom, independence and pluralism of the media, that critics believe will restrict journalists’ protection of sources. The amendments was voted on days after the Nice attacks and concerned a provision to restrict the protection of journalists’ sources where they 'violate the “secret of national defence” and “the fundamental interests of the Nation.”'European Federation of Journalists
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9/9/16Journalists' SourcesMP Crispin Blunt calls for private investigators to be used to track down the source of a leaked report into arms sales to Saudi Arabia for a Guardian and Newsnight investigation. Press Gazette
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10/11/16WhistleblowingThe Financial Affairs Council of the European Union calls for EU action on whistleblowing protection in relation to tax transparencyCouncil of the EU press release
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10/12/16Investigatory Powers BillLords introduce further amendments (30, 31, 76) to protect journalists' sources after pressure from NUJ and News Media AssociationPress Gazette
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11/10/16Journalists' SourcesFrench Consitutional Court rules that Article 4 of the propsed act on freedom, independence and pluralism of the media is not constitutional and is censored.Council of Europe Update
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15-11-2016Investigatory Powers BillInvestigatory Powers Bill passed in House of Lord and House of CommonsHouse of Commons
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29-11-2016Investigatory Powers BillInvestigatory Powers Bill receives Royal AssentHome Office Announcement
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21/12/2016DRIPA/Investigatory Powers ActIn an EU judgement on a case brought by Watson/Tele2 the CJEU rules that general and indiscriminate data collection is not lawful unless it is undertaken for the purposes of fighting serious crime using only means which are strictly necessary. The ruling raises questions about the legality of bulk data collection provisions in the Investigatory Powers Act.CJEU Press Release
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2017
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31/01/2017RIPA/Journalists' SourcesThe Investigatory Powers Tribunal rules that the use of RIPA 2000 by Cleveland Police to find the source of leaks to the Northern Echo was unlawful.Hold the Front Page Article
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26/01/2017The European Commission publishes an Inception Impact Assessment on horizontal or further sectorial EU action on whistleblower protection.Inception Impact Assessment
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2/2/17Whistleblowing/Official Data ConsultationThe Law Commission publishes a consultation paper which puts forward proposals to reform the protection of "official data" including The Official Secrets Act 1989. Critics of the consultation paper suggest it is an attack on whistleblowing. Law Commission
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2/9/17Whistleblowing/Digital Economy BillNUJ wins assurances from UK government that whistleblowers will be protected in the Digital Economy Bill. Clauses 37 and 52 of the Bill are amended to include an exception for the publication of information in the public interest for the purposes of journalism.NUJ article
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2/12/17Whistleblowing/Official Data ConsultationGuardian, Liberty and the Open Rights Group say they were not properly consulted prior to publication of Law Commission consultation paper on reform of official data. Critics quoted in a Guardian article describe the reforms as a "full frontal assault" on whistleblowing and "squarely aimed at the Guardian and Edward Snowden".Guardian report
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14/02/2017WhistleblowingThe European Parliament adopts a resolution on the role of whistleblowers in the protection of the EU’s financial interests by 607 votes to 16, with 70 abstentions. The resolution urged the European Commission to bring forward legislative proposals for whistleblower protection and establish "an independent information-gathering, advisory and referral EU body."Resolution
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22/02/2017Journalists' Sources/WhistleblowingThe Information Law and Policy launches a new report entitled "Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in the Digital Age". Authors Judith Townend and Richard Danbury analyse how journalists can reduce threats to whistleblowing; examine the rights and responsibilities of journalists, whistleblowers and lawmakers; and make a number of positive recommendations for policymakers, journalists, NGOs and researchers.ILPC Report
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3/3/17WhistleblowingThe European Commission launches a public consultation on whistleblower protection in Europe. European Commission Consultation
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07/03/2017Wikileaks/WhistleblowingWikiLeaks begins releasing documents leaked by a whistleblower at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency The document release - code-named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks - reveals details of the CIA's hacking capabilities.Wikileaks claims that "the source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons."Wikileaks Press Release
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16/03/2017WhistleblowingThe European Commission launches a new whistleblowing tool to make it easier for individuals to report secret cartels and other antitrust violations while maintaining their anonymity.European Commission - Press release
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21/03/2017SurveillanceA UK government tender reveals plans for "a new communications data independent authorising body" - a stipulation required in the CJERU judgement in Watson/Tele2 suggesting that the Home Office will implement the ruling.The Register
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21/03/2017Journalists' Sources/SurveillanceThe Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is reported to be investgiating claims that the Met Police used hackers based in India to access the email accounts of journalists and activists.Guardian report
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29/03/2017WhistleblowingGreens/EFA grouping in European Parliament hold roundtable on "Whistleblower protection in Europe". Whistleblower Roundtable
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03/04/2017Journalists' Sources/SurveillanceQuebec government in Canada begins hearings as part of the Chamberland Commission inquiry into police surveillance of journalists and the protection of confidential sources.Globe and Mail
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07/04/2017Surveillance/RIPACleveland Police apologise to journalists for using RIPA to track their calls and text messages after critical stories were published about a senior civilian officer's resignation in July 2013.AOL News
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18/04/2017SurveillanceThe Committee to Protect Journalists joins 29 other organisations in launching the "Fly Don't Spy Campaign". The campaign urges people to sign a petition against proposed "password for entry" schemes whereby journalists would be asked for their social media passwords in order to enter the United States.Fly Don't Spy Campaign
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20/04/2017Wikileaks/WhistleblowingThe Washington Post reports that the US Justice Dept is considering whether to bring charges against Julian Assange after leak of CIA's cyber-toolsWashington Post
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