by David Phinney
Thursday October 1st 2020

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Rethinking My Methods of Communications

For years, I have ardently advocated the downsizing of the U.S. Postal Service. It is costly, slow, inefficient and, I thought, antiquated by electronic communications….

I am now reconsidering that whole notion given news from The Washington Post: “The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.”

I have worked in the Internet since the early 1990’s, received an award for predicting the future of the Internet as a fabulous tool for communication around then, and have used it for research and contacting sources ever since. During the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the subsequent occupation, military contractors and others frequently contacted me because they found my work on the Web — and many shared documents and other information that contributed to some very hard-hitting stories. Many of my competitors and colleagues in the media were frequently flummoxed by my methods. They weren’t as Web savvy and feared having their contact information made public.

How things have changed. Now, I have to reconsider using email and other Web tools. The government may be watching. That puts a chill on the free exchange of information and whistleblowers in fear of retribution. And if the government is watching, then stories in the works that might put it in a bad light may be covered up before those stories meet the light of day.

Maybe the U.S. mail will prove to be more discreet.

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