With newspapers such as The Guardian having played a massive role in exposing the clandestine electronic surveillance programs by the United States and the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister David Cameron asked his country’s media to stop publishing “damaging leaks” provided by former NSA employee Edward Snowden, otherwise it would be difficult for the government “stand back”.
It all started in June when The Guardian published a copy of the top secret court order issued to Verizon Wireless, one of the largest telecommunications giants in the U.S. issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The order required the company to handover all telephone records in its systems to the National Security Agency (NSA).
The Verizon leaks were followed by a series of revelations that exposed how National Security Agency (NSA) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) carried out mass surveillance at home and abroad.
Outrage ensued. The Obama administration and the British government came under national and international criticism for violating constitutional rights, invasion of privacy and the sovereignty of foreign countries.
In August, the UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reportedly ordered The Guardian to destroy classified data on spy programs amid fear of an anti-government backlash.
Making a “veiled threat” to British media, Cameron told newspapers on Monday to be cautious when reporting on the NSA and GCHQ leaks.
"If they (newspapers) don't demonstrate some social responsibility it will be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act," Cameron said.
NSA reporter for The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald, condemned the British PM’s statement on Twitter. He said:
In repressive Britain, it's political officials who dictate what can and cannot be published http://t.co/VJpqK0u7D5— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 28, 2013
Cameron’s decision to dictate journalists would only make matters worse. He took away his people’s right to privacy; does he plan to take away freedom of expression as well?