Whistle-blowers of decades past might arrange a clandestine meeting in a public park or a dimly lit parking garage. But in our high-surveillance society even that's no longer safe, and confidential informants have lately turned to encrypted digital messaging—and we now know that even that can fall prey to the prying eyes of the NSA.
That's why the Freedom of the Press Foundation has introduced SecureDrop, a service that enables secure connections between reporters and sources.
The idea of creating a whistle-blowing service to preserve anonymity, and thus encourage sources to come forward, was important to Aaron Swartz—an Internet activist who committed suicide after allegedly being harassed by the authorities and MIT. He began to build the system, then called DeadDrop, as an open source idea. The New Yorker created a modified version of the system called StrongBox for its own use. But SecureDrop is supported by a network of technical experts, and it's open source—the platform is available for modification via GitHub. Several news agencies have already signed up for installations.
The creators of SecureDrop admit that no system is 100% immune to surveillance, but as Co.Exist reported yesterday the tool has been rigorously tested by University of Washington researchers, security expert Bruce Schneier, and famed hacktivist Jacob Appelbaum.