Campaign to help news orgs get leaks launches

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“Patriotic Security camera.” Credit: Cjelli.

To keep correspondence between sources, whistleblowing websites and news outlets private, Freedom of the Press Foundation announced the launch a series of crowdfunding campaigns Monday to supply up to 24 news outlets with the equipment necessary to run the program SecureDrop.

Made by Reddit cofounder and freedom of information advocate late Aaron Swartz, SecureDrop was constructed to give better protection to whistleblowers.

First adopted by The New Yorker in 2011, SecureDrop is currently used by ProPublica, The Intercept, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Forbes, Wired and more.

Campaigns will be funded for four news outlets at a time.

The first four in the initial crowdfunding campaign:

Each system costs $3,000, said Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm.

“The open-source code is free, but it requires hardware to run on (two servers, a laptop, USB sticks, a firewall, etc.). That is what the funds are intended to cover,” he said via email.

In all, 30 applications were received to receive hardware necessary to run SecureDrop this summer, he said.

“Most news organization who run SecureDrop are bigger organizations, so they’ve had the money to buy the hardware. This campaign is intended to help smaller independent organizations that may not be able to afford it otherwise,” Timm said.

News outlets chosen to participate will also receive security and installation training.

Previously known as DeadDrop, Freedom of the Press Foundation took over management of the open source project last October.

A documentary about SecureDrop inventor Aaron Swartz, a champion of open access to information, online privacy and a well-known hactivist until his death in 2013, was released in June.

“The Internet’s Own Boy” was also a crowdfunded project which launched three months after his death and raised $93,000 in 30 days.

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Khari Johnson
Khari is founder and editor of Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism. He also writes about bots and artificial intelligence for VentureBeat. He has built news startups in the U.S. and Europe for the last decade.

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