Assange case threatens journalism

Next week, the High Court in London will consider whether Julian Assange should be extradited to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act for obtaining government secrets from a source and publishing them. Even if you don’t like Assange, or don’t think he’s a journalist, his case poses an existential threat to the First Amendment rights of the journalists you do like.

Mozilla breaks into the anti-data broker game

Hundreds of data brokers aggregate and sell access to personal data, such as phone numbers, emails, addresses, and even purchasing habits collected through loyalty card programs, social media sites, apps, trackers embedded in websites, and more. Mozilla has a new monthly subscription service which automatically scans for your personal data on data broker websites, but there are other ways to make your data less easily searchable. Read more from the Digital Security Team.

Moving from passwords to passkeys

Instead of traditional passwords, where you log into a website with credentials that you know or store in a manager, a passkey is a credential that you store on your device, registered with an online account. Read more in our newsletter.

Bipartisan support for the PRESS Act

As unlikely as it sounds, Republicans and Democrats are putting their differences aside to support the most important press freedom legislation in modern times — the PRESS Act.

Journalists targeted with Pegasus yet again

Mercenary spyware firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, designed to remotely access targeted smartphones, is marketed to governments around the world for the purposes of law enforcement and counterterrorism. But in the wild, we’ve seen governments repeatedly abuse this and similar spyware tools to infect journalists, spying on their most sensitive files, communications, and sources.

Harsh punishments for leakers hurt journalism

Former IRS contractor Charles Littlejohn received the maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment on Monday, after pleading guilty to leaking Donald Trump’s returns to The New York Times. Littlejohn also leaked a tranche of ultrawealthy Americans’ tax documents to ProPublica. It’s sadly ironic that Littlejohn is being harshly punished for exposing billionaire tax evasion while billionaire tax evaders themselves continue to be afforded leniency by the judiciary.

Harden your iPhone against thieves

Thieves don’t just steal iPhones for the hardware — they may also want access to banking apps and Apple Pay to facilitate fraudulent transfers and purchases. One thing that works in thieves’ favor is that people often use short passwords that are easy to shoulder surf and to memorize — typically only six digits. To minimize this risk, instead of typing in passcodes, where possible and practical consider opting for Face ID or Touch ID when unlocking the phone in public spaces.

FAQs about the PRESS Act

The PRESS Act -– which passed the House last week with no opposition — is the most important press freedom legislation in modern history. It would finally put an end to retaliatory surveillance of journalists who embarrass officials, as well as court orders requiring journalists to choose between burning their sources and risking jail time. As it heads to the Senate, we answer some of the common questions we’ve seen asked about the act. Topics range from the substance and scope of the bill to what you can do to help get it through the Senate.

Check if your account has been breached

If you have found your email in a data breach and the affected account is still active, you’re going to want to change the password for the relevant service right away.

PRESS Act passes the House

The House of Representatives passed the PRESS Act by unanimous consent on Jan. 18, 2024. The act is a bipartisan reporter’s shield bill that would protect journalists from being forced to name their sources in federal court and would stop the federal government from spying on journalists through their technology providers. It’s the strongest shield bill we’ve ever seen — and also the one with the best chance of becoming law. Now it’s up to the Senate to finish the job.

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