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Guardian: Investigative journalism is vital for democracy as state surveillance increases

Posted by Soledad Vega on Wed, 08/05/2015 - 10:01

In another piece coming to the defense of German publication Netzopolitik, Carly Nyst weighs in on how important investigative journalism is in a surveillance state.

Article by Carly Nyst for the Guardian

For those inclined to think that the series of surveillance scandals and leaks over the past two years are unlikely to have much of an impact, it is worth recalling that, up until a little over 30 years ago, the British government denied the very existence of a spying organisation called GCHQ. As investigative journalist Duncan Campbell described in the Intercept yesterday, in a compelling account of a life spent chasing Britain’s spies out of the shadows, in the 70s and 80s even talking about GCHQ, let alone investigating and reporting on it, could get you followed, arrested and jailed.

We’ve come a long way; not only is GCHQ namechecked in the news on a daily basis (thanks in large part to Edward Snowden), but for the past year it has been on a charm offensive, trying to revive its tarnished reputation. The degree of transparency that exists around US and UK secret surveillance agencies NSA and GCHQ exists in large part due to the tenacity of Campbell and his contemporaries; it was Campbell who wrote the first ever story about GCHQ, revealed the existence of NSA spying outpost Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire (now a global centre for planned cyberwar), exposed the construction of a British spy satellite, Zircon, and reported on the deployment of mass-communications surveillance practices by the British government.

It is hard to underestimate the impact that the work of Campbell and other investigative journalists had on the evolution of law and accountability around British spy agencies. Without a doubt, the stories published by journalists working on NSA and GCHQ surveillance have acted as catalysts for legislation, parliamentary inquiries, resignations and greater public scrutiny of the acts committed by intelligence agencies across the world in the name of democracy and national security.

- Read more at the Guardian