Chicago partner Dan Collins was quoted in a recent Fedscoop article, titled, “NSA and the Murky Relationship Between Contractors, Government Secrets and Journalism.” The article discusses the potential conflict of interest for journalist and government contractor Bruce Schneier.

Bruce Schneier is a noted cryptographer, often quoted by reporters writing about cybersecurity, but he is also a blogger and journalist who has been quite vocal about the NSA surveillance programs. Schneier entered into a contract with the Guardian to help the newspaper understand the leaked classified NSA documents and has launched a lobbying campaign to “take the Internet back and dismantle the surveillance state.” However, Bruce also happens to be a technology executive with the telecommunications company BT, which works with nearly a dozen federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Transportation Security Administration.

While Schneier hosts his blog and newsletter on servers outside of BT, many wonder if that is enough from a legal perspective to avoid any perceived conflict of interest, or a violation of law, when it comes to BT’s contractual work with the government.

Dan noted that “anytime an employee of a company that holds U.S. government contracts, particularly contracts involving classified systems of information, acknowledges having access to classified data he or she does not have a need to know or calls publicly for the release of classified information, it should raise red flags for the government.”

He continued, “The United States government is understandably sensitive to properly securing its classified information. And to the extent that anyone, but especially the employee of a government contractor, is misusing that information I would suspect the U.S. government would be quite concerned.”

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