Johns Hopkins Backs Off Request To Remove Professor’s NSA Blog Post


Johns Hopkins University has informed one of its professors that his blog post about recent National Security Agency revelations can go back on the university’s servers. 

Earlier Monday, Matthew Green, an assistant research professor in the university’s Department of Computer Science, announced on Twitter that he had received a request from a Johns Hopkins official “asking me to remove all copies of my NSA blog post from University servers.” Green had published the post, titled “On the NSA,” last Thursday. In it, Green wrote about the news stories that appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and ProPublica last week describing the NSA’s efforts to crack electronic encryption. Green analyzed the latest revelations, and disclosed that a ProPublica reporter had recently contacted him to ask some background questions about encryption. 

“All I know is that I received an email this morning from the Interim Dean of the Engineering school asking… me to take down the post and to desist from using the NSA logo,” Green wrote on Twitter on Monday. “He also suggested I should seek counsel if I continued… In any case I made it clear that I would not shut down my non-[Johns Hopkins University] blog, but I did shut down a [Johns Hopkins University]-hosted mirror.”

Green said he did remove an NSA logo from the post, but would not remove links to “NOW PUBLIC formerly classified material, because that would just be stupid.”

Reached by TPM on Monday, Dennis O’Shea, a Johns Hopkins spokesperson, said that upon further review, the university had determined that Green could restore the university-hosted mirror blog. Read the statement:

The university received information this morning that Matthew Green’s blog contained a link or links to classified material and also used the NSA logo. For that reason, we asked Professor Green to remove the Johns Hopkins-hosted mirror site for his blog.

Upon further review, we note that the NSA logo has been removed and that he appears to link to material that has been published in the news media. Interim Dean Andrew Douglas has informed Professor Green that the mirror site may be restored. …

We did not receive any inquiry from the federal government about the blog or any request from the government to take down the mirror site. (And we did not, of course, receive any inquiry or request from the government about the personal site, though that never was taken down and we never asked that it be taken down).

As to where the information did come from, we are still tracing the path of this event, which all exploded into our notice over the past couple of hours. So I don’t think we’re ready yet with an answer on that.

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