In our interviews with them, US officials argued that the programs are effective, plugging operational gaps that used to exist, and providing the US with valuable intelligence.They also insisted the programs are lawful and subject to rigorous and multi-layered oversight, as well as rules about how the information obtained through them is used.It also damages US credibility in advocating internationally for internet freedom, which the US has listed as an important foreign policy objective since at least 2010.
Journalists expressed concern that, rather than being treated as essential checks on government and partners in ensuring a healthy democratic debate, they now feel they may be viewed as suspect for doing their jobs.
One prominent journalist summed up what many seemed to be feeling as follows: “I don’t want the government to force me to act like a spy.
This is particularly worrisome in light of changes to US law that allow intelligence information to be used more easily in criminal investigations, potentially allowing law enforcement to circumvent traditional warrant requirements.
Journalists told us that officials are substantially less willing to be in contact with the press, even with regard to unclassified matters or personal opinions, than they were even a few years ago.
In the face of a massively powerful surveillance apparatus maintained by the US government, however, that privacy is becoming increasingly scarce and difficult to ensure.
As a result, journalists and their sources, as well as lawyers and their clients, are changing their behavior in ways that undermine basic rights and corrode democratic processes.On the contrary, the US—particularly the intelligence community—has forcefully defended the surveillance programs as essential to protecting US national security.In a world of constantly shifting global threats, officials argue that the US simply cannot know in advance which global communications may be relevant to its intelligence activities, and that as a result, it needs the authority to collect and monitor a broad swath of communications.Specifically, this report documents the effects of large-scale electronic surveillance on the practice of journalism and law, professions that enjoy special legal protections because they are integral to the safeguarding of rights and transparency in a democracy.To document these effects, we interviewed 92 people, including 46 journalists and 42 lawyers, about their concerns and the ways in which their behavior has changed in light of revelations of large-scale surveillance.In response to public concern over the programs’ intrusion on the privacy of millions of people in the US and around the world, the US government has at times acknowledged the need for reform.