UNESCO Commissions World Editors Forum to Conduct Study on Privacy of Journalists’ Sources in Digital Age


The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has commissioned a study titled ” UNESCO Internet Study: Privacy and Journalists’ Sources” to be undertaken by the World Editors Forum for UNESCO.

The project which will be led by WAN-IFRA Research Fellow Julie Posetti seeks to answer questions such as: is it possible to keep journalists’ sources confidential in the digital age? What laws exist globally to support journalists’ ethical obligation to protect their sources from unmasking? To whom do these laws apply? How are legislative protections being adapted to digital realities? And what are the potential consequences of this shifting landscape for acts of investigative journalism?

The main purpose of the research is to map changes in legal protections for journalists’ sources and their effectiveness globally, in the context of the changing digital environment. Ultimately, the researchers will also make recommendations for better practice.

The protection of journalists’ confidential sources is considered important to ensure a free flow of information, especially in regard to whistle-blowing. UNESCO’s Director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, Guy Berger, told the World Editors Forum earlier this year that whistleblowers will fear contacting journalists if they have reason to doubt confidentiality.