The Financial Times has suspended recently hired Mark Di Stefano as media and technology correspondent. The tenacious reporter joined from Buzzfeed where he covered media and politics. He accessed private Zoom conference calls held by The Independent and Evening Standard. The Indy is reporting that log files show an account registered to Di Stefano’s @ft.com email address joined the private video call for Independent staff on Thursday for 16 seconds.
“The caller’s video was disabled, but journalists saw his name flash briefly on screen before he left the meeting. Five minutes later, a separate account joined the call, this time unnamed. Again, video was switched off so that only a black square was displayed among the screens showing up to 100 people who had been invited to attend. The anonymous user account, which remained in the meeting until the end, was later shown to be linked to the mobile phone used by the same Financial Times reporter.”
Di Stefano tweeted the news of staff cuts and furloughs while The Indy’s staff were still on the call. His FT report stated that “people on the call” were the source of the story.
What’s the FT got to say about this? Their own code of conduct says ‘the press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by… intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails”. https://t.co/POb4ABsU0t— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) April 27, 2020
Di Stefano allegedly used the same trick – Zoom is accessible to anyone who has an invitation – to eavesdrop on the Evening Standard’s conference call where similar bad news was broken to staff. Arguably this is more a case of gatecrashing than hacking, it does however appear to be a breach of the FT’s newsgathering rules…
UPDATE 01/05: Di Stefano resigns from The FT