GCHQ and the Myth of Free Press.

This year, it has been revealed that GCHQ has collected and spied upon correspondence between staff at the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington. English PEN, PEN American Center and PEN International have all condemned this action – stating that this action ultimately threatens the fundamental rights of free speech and free press.

“The protection of journalistic sources has long been recognised as one of the basic necessities for a free press. Without guaranteed protection, whistle-blowers will be deterred from coming forward, the press cannot report facts accurately and citizens are denied an informed discussion on matters of public interest.”

This invasion of privacy and fundamental rights is just the latest of an on-going 18-month scandal. Further in-depth analysis of Edward Snowden’s report on the spying by the NSA and GCHQ, uncovered these new revelations. Essentially, these revelations ultimately show that the UK and US governments understand investigative journalists as a threat to national security.

“In 2013, the NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed that the GCHQ TEMPORA programme had accessed undersea fibre-optic cables, gaining access to vast amounts of private communications data.  Recent analysis of the Snowden documents has revealed that thousands of pieces of journalists’ correspondence were swept up when the data was processed. Spies designated investigative journalists as ‘potential threat to security’.”

The level of spying and surveillance that is taking place has completely undermined free speech, free press and freedom of expression – all of which are fundamental for a true democracy.

Can we really call ourselves a democracy when our ‘democratic’ government is slowly taking these freedoms away?

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