The Washington Post to Encrypt the News

Bezos Encrypt The NewsThe Washington Post has begun encrypting sections of its news website. The first major news outlet to take such an act acknowledges they may see a fall in ad sales as a result. This comes in addition to UK’s GCHQ expressing concern about the increasing spread of encryption.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash. His decision to change how news is delivered to consumers flies in the face of government security agencies. Last November, Robert Hannigan a GCHQ director, criticized social-media sites that would encrypt the news for frustrating the efforts of GCHQ tracking programs.

We can locate, collect, exploit (in real time where appropriate) high value mobile devices & services in a fully converged target centric manner, a GCHQ document from 2011 states.

ISIS terrorists, he states, use messaging and social media services to communicate. They abuse hash tags to inject their messages to wider news feeds. There is no need for jihadists to seek out restricted websites or private services. They are completely comfortable with mainstream services. He called the web “a terrorist’s command-and-control network of choice.”

HTTPS acts like a padlock, a separate key exists for each user to unlock content. The Washington Post’s traffic will appear as digitally scrambled noise to eavesdroppers listening in on the transmission across the wire. Without the key to unlock the padlock data remains scrambled.

Also Read: GCHQ Spies Given License to Hack

Limiting spy organizations’ ability to monitor what people are reading is not the only advantage of encryption. HTTPS prevents governments from censoring or editing content. Users’ traffic browsing HTTPS enabled sites only reveal the domain, not specific page, they visit. Countries would be forced to block entire sites, not specific content.

Some ad platforms are not compatible with HTTPS. For now, the security measure is deployed to the site’s front page. In the upcoming months it is expected to roll out to the remainder of the site. By then every third party must be HTTPS-compliant or throw a security warning in the browser.

Images from Shutterstock and Flickr.