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News leak: what is it and how to avoid it

In the national and international affairs, we often hear about news leaks.

In fact, it’s a phenomenon that unfortunately is widespread inside and out of the national area, so much that it has recorded many cases of news leaks, which involved newspapers, judiciary and web sites, creating a lot of practical problems.

News leak what is it

Just to be clear, in the journalistic field, when we talk about a news leak, we mean the case of a disclosure of information subject to embargo from a public or private institution, from a little group of people or a single person, before there’s a release or an official publication of those information, maybe through a press conference.

Generally speaking, we deal with a non-authorised realising of confidential information, that in many cases are due to the very same people that should have taken care of its absolute safety and security.

In this matter, it’s better to remember how we can extract information also with interceptions done illegaly, but, for more information about that, we redirect you to the deepening of the article related.

The leak can be organised by a person that works there or by an institution and, in this case, we’re talking about whistleblowing, or by an external person through spying systems, like it happens in the investigative reporting,  or through research means, for example by using documents or witnesses, like in the investigative journalism.

The reasons why the confidential information can leak out that are not subject to discosure can be various and, in the specific, during the years they’ve recorded some of the main ones;

  • the political one, like when a politician wants to test the public opinion about certain measures that they intend to propose: if it’s unpopular, a denial will follow;
  • expected advantages, public or private;
  • the ethical type, like when the people that know about information concerning issues that are morally wrong or against the public interest; in that case, those subjects are called whistleblowers and they disclose the information they know, even knowing that are at risk of a penalty.

Cases of news leaks

When we’re talking about news leaks, we cannot think about the american scandal known as Watergate.

For the less attentive, the Watergate scandal dates back to 1974 and it was of such a magnitude that compelled the USA president Richard Nixon to resign!

This makes clear how much the public opinion and the high-ranking officials in politics are sensitive to this matter, and when a news leak can affect a society.

It’s definetely more recent and closer to us the news leak case concerning the ‘ndrangheta.

In the scope of the maxi operation Rinascita-Scott led against the ‘ndrangheta by the Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia di Catanzaro and the Arma ( Anti-Mafia District Directorate and the Army), have been involved mobsters and white-collars, among which there were public officials, members of the local police, politicians, professionals and enterpreneurs.

In the context of what the range of that kind of operation was, that led to 334 arrests and 416 under investigation, charged with mafia association, usury, murder, money laundering and other crimes with recognition of the aggravating of the mafia method, and with the abduction of 15 millions of goods, and the deployment of forces that involved more than 3 thousand carabinieri, there was a news leak that risked to compromise the entire operation.

Just think that the prosecutor of Catanzaro Nicola Gratteri was forced to anticipate the blitz of one day, because the people under investigation were already aware of the incoming arrests.

Was it a news leak because of a snitch or because of a stealing of information by interception?

What really matters is that a such complex operation to organise may have been endangered by a news leak, that could have blown everything up, including months of work.

Why does it happen?

Unfortunately, whatever might be the personal reason that pushes someone to interfere with the investigations of the police and the law enforcement, we need to consider an important aspect, not secondary at all.

We are referring to the fact that, nowadays as well and in a such sensitive field like the judicial one, too often the communication channels used for the exchange of information aren’t totally safe.

This means that someone who has a good command of the communication systems or, enough money to hire one, in order to achieve their goals are capable of penetrating the communication net of the judicial authorities and the law enforcement, that necessarily have to work together during an investigation.

Basically, the solution would be to reinforce and make impenetrable, for real, the communication system among the subjects involved in an investigation, such as the Prosecutor’s Office, Public Ministry, Preliminary Investigation Judge, Judicial Police.

An example of tools capable of making the conversations and communications among those subjects more safe are the apps of the mobile devices, one in particular is Crypty Talk.

We’re talking about actual apps to download on the smartphone, that allow to exchange messages and calls among different people in a total safe way and anonimously, in order to shelter our own communications from unwanted wiretaps.

No trace of the communications and the exchange of information will remain on your smartphone, so data are not saved nor downloaded on the device and every call, message or file transfert will saty on encrypted servers, with the possibility of a timed auto-erase of the messages.

Remember that the interests that push a subject and, even more, a criminal organisation to interefere and to keep themselves updated on the development and the outcome of potential investigations that involve them are a lot, and the risk of seeing frustrated all the hard work of months, or even years, is more than real.

That’s why it’s important to protect the investigations and to keep them away from prying eyes and ears!

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