This man understands what it means to be a reporter

Barton Gellman of The Washington Post gets my hero award today … speaking at the Cato Institute, he explains why  he defied the government’s request not to publish the names of the companies cooperating with the PRISM program:

The thing that the government most wanted us to remove was the names of the nine companies. The argument, roughly speaking, was that we will lose cooperation from companies if you expose them in this way. And my reply was “that’s why we are including them.” Not in order to cause a certain result, or to get you to lose your cooperation but if the harm that you are describing consists of reputational or business damage to a company because the public doesn’t like what it’s doing or you’re doing, that’s the accountability we are supposed to be promoting.

Read the whole (short) article here.

Gellman also posits that the revelation of their identities is what made them all of the sudden very concerned about the transparency of NSA/FISC requests, and I think he’s right. Their reactions have been lukewarm at best — they did far more to combat SOPA/PIPA — but they seem to be leaving this fight to the Ladar Levisons and Electronic Frontier Foundations of the world. If companies including Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook banded together and said “No — or else,” Washington would have no choice but to listen, just like they did with SOPA/PIPA. It is their noblesse oblige to do so.





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