Digital Kildebeskyttelse. Udfordringer. Idealer. Dilemmaer.

Camilla Høj Eggers

Studenteropgave: Speciale


In journalism, the challenges concerning the protection of confidential sources have grown alongside the increase in surveillance. Almost every individual lays out a digital track by using a cell phone, browsing the Internet and sending e-mails, and this track can be used to hunt down and expose sources. Through qualitative interviews with a focus on everyday practices this thesis examines how ten investigative journalists from five of the largest national media outlets attempt to protect their confidential sources in a time where digital surveillance is ubiquitous. The study shows that all ten journalists are somewhat aware of the potential risks of being under surveillance and most of them have a clear idea of which digital communication services and platforms are more vulnerable to surveillance. However, the methods to enhance the digital security are not implemented consistently. Phone calls, un-encrypted e-mails, text messages and sharing of sensitive files through work e-mails are all part of the journalists’ day-to-day work, although some are very aware of trying to keep the most sensitive details out of telephone conversations, text messages and e-mails. Some go even further in trying to keep the communications off digital devices and services in order to keep the relation hidden from those who might have an interest in tracking down the source. Old-fashioned letters and physical meetings are included in the journalistic practice, albeit not always chosen as the method of contact. But the journalists argue, that the methods to enhance the level of security in communications with sources are too time-consuming and often difficult to establish with a source that is not well-versed in the digital world. For example it is the journalists’ experiences that very few sources use encryption, and therefore using encryption to heighten the security of the communication is not always an option. The study finds that these challenges give rise to a dilemma. On one side trying to live up to the democratic responsibility of gathering and conveying important information to society, not to mention the competitiveness of the media buisness and the perosnal gain of breaking a story, and on the other side, to live up to the ethical responsibility it is to protect a confidential source. This security dilemma could leave the journalists with a choice between publishing the story and risking the protection of their source, and deciding not to publish the story altogether, because of the lack of digital security. According to the journalists’ descriptions of their strong commitment to the protection of sources it seems an easy choice: the protection of sources is more important than publishing a story. However the journalistic practices do not always follow this ideal. Furthermore it is important to note, that the media organisations participating in this study, have policies concerning the ethical and responsible practice of journalism in general including the protection of sources, but at the time of the study none have guidelines specifically concerning digital security and the new challenges these impose.

UddannelserJournalistik, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato26 feb. 2015
VejledereMaria Bendix Wittchen


  • Kryptering
  • Kvalitative interviews
  • Informationssikkerhed
  • Journalistisk metode
  • Digital kildebeskyttelse
  • Overvågning