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More Fresh Scoops from the New York Times

February 11th, 2012 · 5 Comments

Traveling Light in a Time of Digital Thievery,” Nicole Perlroth, New York Times 2/10/12:

When Kenneth G. Lieberthal, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, travels to that country, he follows a routine that seems straight from a spy film.

He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery, for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely.

In China, business travelers take extreme precautions to avoid cyber-espionage,” Ellen Nakashima & William Wan, 9/26/11:

“I’ve been told that if you use an iPhone or BlackBerry, everything on it — contacts, calendar, e-mails — can be downloaded in a second. All it takes is someone sitting near you on a subway waiting for you to turn it on, and they’ve got it,” said Kenneth Lieberthal, a former senior White House official for Asia who is at the Brookings Institution. […]

Travelers there often tote disposable cellphones and loaner laptops stripped of sensitive data. Some U.S. officials take no electronic gear. […] Another common tactic is to remove batteries from cellphones, which makes digital tracking more difficult and prevents microphones from being activated remotely.

Times, 2/10/12:

Hackers’ preferred modus operandi, security experts say, is to break into employees’ portable devices and leapfrog into employers’ networks — stealing secrets while leaving nary a trace. […]

“If a company has significant intellectual property that the Chinese and Russians are interested in, and you go over there with mobile devices, your devices will get penetrated,” said Joel F. Brenner, formerly the top counterintelligence official in the office of the director of national intelligence.

Post, 9/26/11:

On the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Joel Brenner, then the U.S. national counterintelligence executive, first issued government safety guidance to overseas travelers, with such tips as: “If you can do without the device, don’t take it.” Though no country was named, “it was really directed at countries like China and Russia,” Brenner said in a recent interview. […]

What’s at stake is not only the security of your current communications, but the security of your secrets back home,” said Brenner, who advises clients on data security at the law firm Cooley LLP. “That’s the real danger.”

This is actually a good deal less egregious than some of the Times‘ other recent rewrites, and in any event, I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with looking at a competitor’s article and saying: “Hey, we should really do our own version of this”—especially when, as in this case, they’ve updated it with some interesting new information. But is it really so hard to just link back from the online version so the reader can see what you’re building on? It’s kinda standard practice in 2012—which makes not doing it seem like a conscious, petty refusal to admit that occasionally someone else gets to an interesting story first. The Post did a strong story, and it’s great that Times readers get the benefit of an updated version—just be adults and acknowledge that’s what you’re giving them.

Tags: Journalism & the Media



5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeremy // Feb 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    So, wait. The “Times” pulled a HuffPo–who they’ve been complaining about doing the exact same thing?

  • 2 Julian Sanchez // Feb 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Well, the Times always goes through the motions of re-reporting the story, and often substantially augments it. But yeah, they’ve LONG been notorious for pulling this sort of thing—it’s just a lot easier to spot now.

  • 3 Kevin O'Reilly // Feb 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Providing a link to a competitor news outlet’s version of a story that you’re redoing three months later? No, that’s not standard practice.

  • 4 Julian Sanchez // Feb 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I meant among people-who-write-online generally, not among major newspapers. Though I think this is a point on which the newspapers should feel profound shame at the contrast.

  • 5 Glen // Feb 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Can you provide a link to the article where you reported on this subject?