Knight Center
Knight Center


Experts discuss safety and protection in cyberspace during 10th annual Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas

During the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas' 10th annual Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, a panel of experts moderated by renowned Peruvian journalist Gustavo Gorriti, director of IDL-Reporteros, warned that while the Internet is an invaluable resource for journalists, it can also become a powerful tool that can be used against them if proper precautions are not taken. The panel, "Safety and Protection on Cyberspace: Threats and Vulnerabilities Facing Journalists and Online Media," was held Monday, May 21, as part of the Forum, which continues through May 22 in Austin, Texas.

Robert Guerra, senior advisor at the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for Global Affairs, said that over the past 10 years, surveillance technology and methods have become increasingly sophisticated. He said that in China in particular, there has been the use of barely detectable computer viruses that have compromised information from many parts of the world.

The panel agreed that China is the most investigated case of how Internet content can be compromised, and that it can be used as an example of how content is being treated worldwide.

Jillian York, director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, stressed the importance of being conscientious of safety from the very launch of a blog or website. From there, she said, there are a variety of simple safety measures that can be used on a daily basis, and suggested that journalists consult the CPJ Journalist Security Guide, the publication Surveillance Self-Defense from the EEF, and the website

Director of freedom of expression organization Article 19 Darío Ramirez emphasized that in many places Internet surveillance is a threat not only by governments, but also by criminals. He highlighted the lack of legislation available to protect journalists and media outlets who become the victim of cyberattacks.

However, blogger Luis Carlos Diaz, communication coordiantor for Centro Gumilla in Venezuela, said that in many places there exists legislation that could be used to bring justice to cyberattack cases. He said that in Venezuela, the government has not acted in many of these cases, but that the public response has been invaluable. He suggested that the more Internet exposure journalists have, the more protected they are by the public.

See here for more tips on how to avoid cyberattacks.

The panel closed with the agreement that more is needed to bridge the gap between journalists and technologists in order to widely disseminate the solutions needed to protect journalists and citizen journalists. their information, and their sources.

See here for more coverage of the Austin Forum. This year's Austin Forum, May 20-22 in Austin, Texas, is themed "Safety and Protection for Journalists, Bloggers, and Citizen Journalists," and is organized by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Latin America and Media programs of the Open Society Foundations.


Subscribe to our weekly newsletter "Journalism in the Americas"

Boletim Semanal (Português)
Boletín Semanal (Español)
Weekly Newsletter (English)
Marketing by ActiveCampaign