Secure news tip system offered to media

Oct 15, 2013
Newspapers are displayed at a newsstand October 26, 2009 in San Francisco, California

A US press freedom group announced Tuesday it would be offering news organizations access to an open-source whistleblower submission system dubbed "SecureDrop."

The Freedom of the Press Foundation said it has taken charge of what was originally known as the DeadDrop project, developed by the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz.

The foundation will also provide on-site installation and technical support to wishing to run the system.

The new system adds to the Wikileaks-style system for anonymous submission of news tips and documents. The Wall Street Journal has its own system, and the New Yorker has an early version of DeadDrop.

The foundation said no security system can ever be 100 percent impenetrable, but this is "the strongest ever made available to media outlets" and "several major news agencies" have agreed to use it.

"We've reached a time in America when the only way the press can assure the anonymity and safety of their sources is not to know who they are," said JP Barlow, co-founder and board member of Freedom of the Press Foundation.

"SecureDrop is where real news can be slipped quietly under the door."

The system was created by Swartz with investigative reporter Kevin Poulsen, using the Python computer language. It accepts messages and documents from the Web and encrypts them for secure storage.

News sources are assigned a unique codename to establish a relationship with the news organization without having to reveal one's true identity or use email, which can be tracked by authorities.

"Journalists are starting to recognize that sophisticated communications security is a key element in the newsgathering process," Freedom of the Press Foundation's chief technology officer Micah Lee said.

"SecureDrop is the safest way we know for an anonymous source to send information to while protecting their identity."

The announcement comes days after a media watchdog group issued a report saying the war on news leaks by President Barack Obama's administration is becoming a threat to press freedom and democracy.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, in a report based on interviews with dozens of news professionals, said journalists had found sources afraid to speak to them because of an unprecedented crackdown, in some cases using the 1917 Espionage Act.

"A truly free press hinges on the ability of investigative journalists to build trust with their sources," Freedom of the Press Foundation executive director Trevor Timm said.

Explore further: Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New Yorker launches online anonymous tip system

May 15, 2013

The New Yorker magazine on Wednesday unveiled a new online system for anonymous whistleblower tips, based on technology developed by the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz and a former hacker.

US seizure of journalist records called 'chilling'

Jun 19, 2013

The US government's secret seizure of Associated Press phone records had a "chilling effect" on newsgathering by the agency and other news organizations, AP's top executive said Wednesday.

Facebook joins Web freedom group

May 22, 2013

Facebook on Wednesday became a full member of the Global Network Initiative, a non-governmental organization promoting Internet freedom and privacy rights.

AP gets Knight funding to create journalistic tool

Jun 22, 2011

(AP) -- The Associated Press will be among 16 news organizations and Internet entrepreneurs sharing $4.7 million in funding to design innovative ways to find and deliver news in the digital age.

Jordan blocks 254 news websites

Jul 02, 2013

The Jordanian government said on Tuesday that it had blocked 254 unlicensed news websites, 16 of them in the previous two days, using powers under a 2012 law criticised as a threat to freedom of expression.

Recommended for you

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

UN General Assembly OKs digital privacy resolution

Dec 18, 2014

The U.N. General Assembly has approved a resolution demanding better digital privacy protections for people around the world, another response to Edward Snowden's revelations about U.S. government spying.

Online privacy to remain thorny issue: survey

Dec 18, 2014

Online privacy will remain a thorny issue over the next decade, without a widely accepted system that balances user rights and personal data collection, a survey of experts showed Thursday.

Spain: Google News vanishes amid 'Google Tax' spat

Dec 16, 2014

Google on Tuesday followed through with a pledge to shut down Google News in Spain in reaction to a Spanish law requiring news publishers to receive payment for content even if they are willing to give it away.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.