Protecting sources: from shield laws to Wikileaks


Mass digital surveillance
Qualified professional privilege
Source protection

How to Cite

Dupéré, M. (2015). Protecting sources: from shield laws to Wikileaks. Brazilian Journalism Research, 11(1), 278–291.


This paper focuses on recent developments in the right and ability of journalists to protect their sources’ anonymity in the United Kingdom, particularly in light of the Snowden revelations of June 2013, and the significance of collaboration between the global online media organization Wikileaks and mainstream news organisations. It explores two key difficulties faced by journalists: the notion of a qualified professional privilege and the unknown extent of covert requests by public authorities for disclosure involving communications data and metadata. In doing so, it comments upon the opening filled by Wikileaks, which protects its sources’ anonymity through high data security and encryption. This paper’s findings tend to show that the covert practice of blanket mass digital surveillance of individual communications including journalists’ is undermining source protection and the rise of Wikileaks as an alternative model is challenging the traditional role of journalists as mediators and gatekeepers in the digital era.

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