United States


Reunión de Medio Año

Puebla, México

8 al 11 de marzo del 2013

In his first term, president Obama mostly disappointed media activists by aggressively prosecuting government whistleblowers under espionage laws, despite his pledge of open and transparent government. However, Obama drew praise in November 2012 when he signed new whistleblower protections into law. The law, known as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act expands protections for federal workers who blow the whistle on misconduct, fraud and illegality. The Obama administration has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the 1917 Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined going back to the Reagan administration. The indictments of six individuals under the Espionage Act have drawn criticism from those who say the president’s crackdown chills dissent and curtails a free press. Meanwhile US media companies have come under increasing attack from Chinese hackers. In February the cybersecurity company Mandiant Corp published a report that allegedly traced a series of cyberattacks on U.S. media companies to a Shanghai-based unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. In January John C. Kiriakou became the first CIA officer sentenced to prison for leaking classified information to the media. Kiriakou, 48, was sentenced to 30 months prison for releasing the name of an undercover CIA agent to a reporter as well as information about the use of the banned interrogation technique known as water-boarding. Kiriakou is the sixth current of former US government employee prosecuted for releasing classified information to the media during the Obama administration, more than all previous administrations combined, according to The New York Times. Bradley Manning, the analyst who allegedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents to WikiLeaks, is being prosecuted by the US government for allegedly transmitting confidential material to the anti-secrecy campaigner Julian Assange's web organization Wikileaks. The US government considers such actions a threat to its national security. If convicted the 25-year-old could be confined to military custody for the rest of his life. But Manning's plight has been taken up by whistleblower advocates, wit protests held worldwide. Manning, a former military intelligence analyst, faces 22 charges relating to the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from the Afghan and Iraq wars, and videos of US military actions. The most serious count, that of "aiding the enemy", accuses him of arranging for state secrets to be published on the internet knowing that al-Qaeda would have access to them. The law signed by President Obama in Nov 2012 increases protection for federal employees who witness waste, fraud, or abuse within the federal government, and expands penalties for violating protections while adding an ombudsman to the staff of some federal agencies tasked with educating agency employees of their rights. Media analysts say the law is a small but meaningful step, although federal employees still lack most of the basic rights available to whistleblowers in the private sector. The Obama administration defends its use of the Espionage Act on national security grounds. The Justice Department argues that there are established procedures for government employees to follow if they want to report misdeeds, and government officials in authorized possession of classified information have no authority or right to unilaterally determine that it should be made public. The Federal Communications Commission may revoke a 1975 rule banning cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations, according to several sources. The proposed change to the ban would allow a company to own one newspaper, two television stations and up to eight radio stations in the same media market, according to The New York Times. Supporters of the revision claim the loosening of ownership rules will provide much-needed investment for struggling local newspapers while critics fear the proposed changes could threaten media diversity and weaken local news. Media companies, including newspapers, support the change. Caroline Little, CEO and president of the Newspaper Association of America, wrote an opinion piece for Politico arguing that the FCC ban on cross-ownership “has outlived its original purpose and no longer serves the public interest.” The Association of Broadcasters advocated relaxing the ban past the top 20 markets and beyond the 50 largest cities, according to Bloomberg. Twelve of the world’s top news organizations, including Gannett Co. Inc., The New York Times Co., News Corp., Bloomberg and the Associated Press, have lined up against Delaware’s secret arbitration court for high-stakes business disputes. The media companies, along with advocacy organizations, argue that confidential arbitration proceedings in the court are essentially state-sponsored civil trials presided over by sitting judges in the country’s most important corporate law court. As such, the proceedings and opinions should be open in full view of the public, argue briefs by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Public Citizen. Delaware is so prominent in corporate law that its rules largely determine the internal workings of most large U.S. companies, including directors’ duties. Nearly one million business entities, including more than half of all publicly traded companies, make their legal home in the state. As a result, Delaware’s body of corporate law is the country’s de facto business code. Chinese kackers have targeted American journalists as part of a broader computer espionage campaign against American news media companies that have reported on Chinese leaders and corporations. In February the cybersecurity company Mandiant Corp published a report that allegedly traced a series of cyberattacks on U.S. media companies to a Shanghai-based unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. China's Defense Ministry issued a flat denial of the accusations and called them "unprofessional." Mandiant said the unit had stolen "hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006." Last year, Bloomberg News was targeted by Chinese hackers, according to to Bloomberg. Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees. The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation published online on Oct 25 that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings. Security experts hired by The Times to detect and block the computer attacks gathered digital evidence that Chinese hackers, using methods that some consultants have associated with the Chinese military in the past, breached The Times’s network. They broke into the e-mail accounts of its Shanghai bureau chief, David Barboza, who wrote the reports on Mr. Wen’s relatives, and Jim Yardley, The Times’s South Asia bureau chief in India, who previously worked as bureau chief in Beijing. The hackers tried to cloak the source of the attacks on The Times by first penetrating computers at United States universities and routing the attacks through them, said computer security experts at Mandiant, the company hired by The Times. This matches the subterfuge used in many other attacks that Mandiant has tracked to China. Security experts found evidence that the hackers stole the corporate passwords for every Times employee and used those to gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees, most of them outside The Times’s newsroom. No customer data was stolen from The Times, security experts said.