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Bloomberg's Spy Chip Story Reveals the Murky World of National Security Reporting

samedi 6 octobre 2018, 00:10 , par Slashdot/Apple
TechCrunch's security editor, Zack Whittaker, analyzes Bloomberg's recent report that China infiltrated Apple, Amazon and others via a tiny microchip inserted into servers at the data centers associated with these companies. With Apple and Amazon refuting Bloomberg's claims, Whittaker talks about the 'murky world of national security reporting' and the difficulties of reporting stories of this magnitude with anonymous sources. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from his report: Today's bombshell Bloomberg story has the internet split: either the story is right, and reporters have uncovered one of the largest and jarring breaches of the U.S. tech industry by a foreign adversary or it's not, and a lot of people screwed up. Welcome to the murky world of national security reporting. I've covered cybersecurity and national security for about five years, most recently at CBS, where I reported exclusively on several stories -- including the U.S. government's covert efforts to force tech companies to hand over their source code in an effort to find vulnerabilities and conduct surveillance. And last year I revealed that the National Security Agency had its fifth data breach in as many years, and classified documents showed that a government data collection program was far wider than first thought and was collecting data on U.S. citizens. Even with this story, my gut is mixed.

Naturally, people are skeptical of this 'spy chip' story. On one side you have Bloomberg's decades-long stellar reputation and reporting acumen, a thoroughly researched story citing more than a dozen sources -- some inside the government and out -- and presenting enough evidence to present a convincing case. On the other, the sources are anonymous -- likely because the information they shared wasn't theirs to share or it was classified, putting sources in risk of legal jeopardy. But that makes accountability difficult. No reporter wants to say 'a source familiar with the matter' because it weakens the story. It's the reason reporters will tag names to spokespeople or officials so that it holds the powers accountable for their words. And, the denials from the companies themselves -- though transparently published in full by Bloomberg -- are not bulletproof in outright rejection of the story's claims. These statements go through legal counsel and are subject to government regulation. These statements become a counterbalance -- turning the story from an evidence-based report into a 'he said, she said' situation. That puts the onus on the reader to judge Bloomberg's reporting. Reporters can publish the truth all they want, but ultimately it's down to the reader to believe it or not. Whittaker ends by saying 'Bloomberg's delivery could have been better,' and that they 'missed an opportunity to be more open and transparent in how it came to the conclusions that it did.' 'Journalism isn't proprietary,' Whittaker writes. 'It should be open to as many people as possible. If you're not transparent in how you report things, you lose readers' trust. That's where the story rests on shaky ground. Admittedly, as detailed and as well-sourced as the story is, you -- and I -- have to put a lot of trust and faith in Bloomberg and its reporters.'

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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