1st Amendment News

China hacks New York Times – most likely after sources

The New York Times reported that Chinese hackers had infiltrated its computer systems in response to the Times investigative reports on the billion dollar business dealings of the relatives of Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister. (Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times, January 30, 2013)

Perlroth said that the attack seems to be part of a broad computer espionage campaign against the U.S. media and a spying initiative aimed at not just the media but activist groups, government agencies and corporations.

“Why might Chinese hackers want information about the Times’ reporting on the prime minister and his family? The most troubling possible explanation is that they would like to exact retribution on any anonymous sources who tipped the paper off to unsavory dealings. But the Times maintains that its reporting was based on public records. The hacks could also be viewed simply as an intimidation tactic—an effort to extend the Chinese regime’s tight control over the media beyond its borders—though if so, it’s probably counterproductive. American journalists, accustomed to doing their jobs without fear of imprisonment or assassination, tend only to be encouraged by brazen efforts to deter them from reporting on a given topic,” writes Will Oremus for Slate, January 31, 2013. -db

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