Reporters Committee calls on White House to support strong encryption for journalists

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) joined nearly 150 civil society groups, businesses, and trade groups in a letter to the White House urging it to not succumb to pressure to build in exceptions to encryption for law enforcement.

Journalism plays an essential role in realizing democratic and development rights. Yet, in many countries journalists are targeted for the truth they speak to power. Encryption helps to strengthen the chain of communications journalists use to do their jobs. It also helps limit the ability of attackers to attack and hack into news organizations’ websites, read confidential source-journalist communications. Journalists use encryption to better protect their sources, who are the lifeblood of journalism. In so doing, journalists are able to provide a check on those in power and provide society with the information it needs to make informed decisions.

Mandating the insertion of vulnerabilities into encrypted devices and services makes those products less secure against other attackers wishing to obtain the information. Weakening encryption would undermine information security and economic security and limit the role of the free press and dampen freedom of expression globally.

This letter complements ongoing efforts by RCFP to support encryption. In November 2014, the Reporters Committee coordinated and hosted a digital security and encryption summit in Washington, D.C., focused on the intersection of technology and journalism. RCFP has written letters in support of strong encryption and anonymity devices, including a joint letter with the Committee to Protect Journalists to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, which called for strong UN protection of these tools so journalists can continue to use them in their work. The Reporters Committee has also written a series of articles about encryption, and will continue to monitor the debate closely.

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