Obama Administration Wiretaps Associated Press Reporters, Seeks New Rules to Make Internet Surveillance Easier

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Posted May 15, 2013

Interview with Mark Jaycox, policy analyst and legislative assistant with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, conducted by Scott Harris


Revelations about government surveillance of Associated Press reporters’ phone records has set off alarms with regard to possible violations of First Amendment rights. The covert surveillance was only discovered when a letter was sent by U.S. attorney Ronald Machen to the AP’s general counsel on May 10. The AP itself reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of telephone records of AP reporters and editors, listing incoming and outgoing calls on work, home and cell phones, including general AP office numbers in New York, Washington, Hartford, Conn. and at the House of Representatives press gallery.

In response to the surveillance, Gary Pruitt, AP’s president and chief executive wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that stated, “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the news gathering activities undertaken by The A.P. during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s news-gathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Mark Jaycox, policy analyst and legislative assistant with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who expresses the concern of many civil liberties advocates about this instance of government surveillance of news organizations – and the Obama administration’s plan to overhaul the federal surveillance law, known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act or CALEA, to make it easier for law enforcement to tap Internet communications.

Learn more about the Electronic Frontier Foundation by visiting the Electronic Frontier foundation at EFF.org.

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