A senior Fairfax journalist appears to have lifted copy from an earlier article published by The Intercept.
On Friday night, the Twitter account of Media Direct, an anonymous whistleblowing platform that connects journalists and sources, tweeted a side-by-side comparison of two articles both published late last week.
The first, by The Intercept, contained the following paragraphs:
“The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The agencies used the Internet spying system XKEYSCORE to identify smartphone traffic flowing across Internet cables and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google …
“Previous disclosures from the Snowden files have shown agencies in the Five Eyes alliance designed spyware for iPhones and Android smartphones, enabling them to infect targeted phones and grab emails, texts, web history, call records, videos, photos and other files stored on them. But methods used by the agencies to get the spyware onto phones in the first place have remained unclear.”
Fairfax’s piece, written last Friday by Philip Dorling, contained the following. The sections in bold are very similar to those in The Intercept‘s article:
“The main purpose of the workshops was to find new ways to exploit smartphone technology for surveillance. The Five Eyes agencies used the internet spying system to identify smartphone traffic flowing across internet links and then to track down smartphone connections to app marketplace servers operated by Samsung and Google …
“Previous disclosures from documents leaked by Snowden have shown Five Eyes agencies have designed spyware for iPhones and Android smartphones, enabling them to infect targeted phones and harvest emails, texts, web history, call records, videos, photos and other information stored on them. They have also been keen to find ways to send selective misinformation to targets’ handsets as part of so-called ‘effects’ operations that are used to spread propaganda or confuse adversaries. However, the methods used by the agencies to get the spyware on to phones have remained unclear.”
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In response to the tweet, Dorling owned up to the error. “My mistake [w]as written in a rush at 5.00 am. As I’m leaving Fairfax my care factor was probably diminished,” he wrote.
Most of the article Dorling wrote is a localisation of the disclosures first revealed by The Intercept, and is original work based on the source documents.
Dorling, who is currently a contributor rather than a staff journalist at Fairfax, is one of Australia’s leading journalists on the issues of intelligence and security. He was the journalist who broke many of the Australian WikiLeaks disclosures, and he published many of the key stories to come out of the work of Julian Assange. He has been a finalist for multiple Walkleys. He is, however, soon to conclude his formal attachment to the publisher, as his contributor contract is running out.
Asked to comment on the similarities this morning, Dorling told Crikey:
“It was an embarrassing lapse of judgement, made in a rush while writing in the early hours of the morning. It’s a mistake that’s all too common in today’s age of churnalism, but that’s no excuse on my part. I’ve got to take it on the chin.”
Fairfax has been contacted for comment.