Gavin MacFadyen has long been involved in work related to online information and cyber surveillance, despite not being a ‘nerd’, as he jokingly refers to those more technologically advanced. He recalls the days when data gathered from computers was denounced by journalists as irrelevant techno speak. Fast forward a few years and data has now become an important source of information for investigative journalists. It is also the cause of much controversy, intimidation, and silencing.
While the ability to collect and store data through our various technological devices has allowed journalists increased access to information, it also means an increase in cyber surveillance. Data is monitored and we can be intimidated to destroy information, making what we say and share limited despite our freedom of speech.
Ordinary people do not realise the extent to this surveillance. From our emails to what we search for on Google, we are all vulnerable to cyber surveillance. You think these kinds of things are of no interest, until you become a person of interest, MacFadyen says. Whistleblowers in particular, are vulnerable to threat when they share information, which is why measures have been put into place to allow whistleblowers to submit and share information in a way that cannot be traced and so protects them. MacFadyen has worked with Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and he explains to us the extent of the dangers of being spied on should we have information that someone else wants to keep secret.
We know that our liberty is limited, but what can we do about it? MacFadyen and the audience discuss ways in which whistleblowers as well as ordinary citizens using technological devices can protect themselves and their information from surveillance. You can listen to the conversation here.
More information on the The Centre for Investigative Journalism can be found here: http://www.tcij.org