Mexican journalists and bloggers must "urgently" improve their digital security skills, says report

  • By Guest
  • February 13, 2013

By Alejandro Martínez

Mexican journalists and bloggers need to urgently improve their understanding of digital and mobile security, according to a new report by Freedom House Mexico and the International Center for Journalists.

The survey, led by ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow Jorge Luis Sierra, interviewed 102 journalists and bloggers in 20 Mexican states between October and November 2012. According to the report, almost all those surveyed use social networks, mobile telephones and blogs as part of their job but had "little or no command of digital security tools."

Ninety percent of respondents said they use the Internet regularly but only 15 percent say they have a "good com­mand of security tools like data en­cryption, use of VPNs, anonymous Internet navigation and secure file removal."

Furthermore, 69 percent responded that they had been attacked or threatened because of their job at least once, while 96 percent said they knew colleagues who had suffered assaults or threats. Listing the digital risks that they most fear, 35 percent said someone hacking their personal email and 33 percent said spying on their Internet activity.

"The results of this sur­vey show the urgent need to in­troduce Mexican journalists and bloggers to new technologies and protocols and help newsrooms de­velop a culture of digital ­security awareness to counter increasingly sophisticated threats and attacks from both governmental agencies and criminal organizations," the report said.

The report recommended that not only journalists and bloggers in Mexico expand their awareness of digital and mobile security, advocating that media companies and international journalistic organizations offer training about these threats, create strategies to mitigate journalists' vulnerability and help them create a dedicated digital security network.

Internet users have become increasingly influential in reporting violence in the country in recent years as government persecution and the dangers posed by organized crime in Mexico have reached online journalists and bloggers. Sierra highlighted the cases of two people hanged in Nuevo Laredo in 2011 with a sign from the Los Zetas drug cartel warning that the same fate would befall any other netizens that would interfere with them; the kidnapping and killing of an editor for the website reporterospoliciacos.mx in Veracruz last year; and the arrest of two Twitter users accused of terrorism after spreading rumors about violence.

Click here to read to full report.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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