The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: citizenfour


While the President could pardon Snowden, doing so would insinuate that the Espionage Act and other, similar policies are irrelevant in a modern context. It would also diminish the government’s credibility in the eyes of the American public, because granting Snowden a pardon would essentially equate to admitting that everything the government has been saying about security and the power of their institutions is untrue.

Collaborators: Felix and Suzy

Encryption Use for Journalists

Because my paper is directed at students who wish to pursue a career in journalism, many of my sources are articles found in the Columbia Journalism Review, a magazine aimed at journalists. There have been several articles written about encryption use for journalists in the past few years, especially in the wake of the Snowden leaks. The movie Citizenfour provided some additional background on the events surrounding these leaks. Additionally, I may use Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras as specific examples of journalists using cryptography. While their situation was a bit more extreme and sensitive than what the average future journalist is likely to encounter, it is still useful for students to know something of what they did to communicate with Snowden. I have discovered in the course of my research that encrypted communications, in addition to protecting anonymous sources, also serves an important purpose for journalists in that it makes those sources more comfortable communicating sensitive information. (Additionally, some experts believe that journalists should continually operate under the assumption that if someone truly wants to find out information about their anonymous sources, that they will be able to do so.) Apparently, there is not much of a focus currently in journalism programs or within the news agencies themselves on teaching encryption techniques, so until things change this is something important for students to study on their own.

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