How do you securely leak information in a surveillance society?

How do you talk to a reporter with minimum risk of being found out? What does the answer to that question tell the rest of us who don’t have really juicy stuff to spill to a national reporter?

You leave digital crumbs every time you use the internet or your computer or any device that accesses the ‘net. How then to securely leak info to the media?

You leave crumbs even by having your cell phone turned on. And with some phones (the iPhone as I understand) you can’t turn the thing off so you create a record of everywhere the phone goes.

As I mentioned before, the biographer/lover of the CIA director covered her trail with a computer used only for direct contact and then used it only while she was staying at an out-of-town hotel and even then only on a public wifi network. Sounds like a pretty good plan, huh?

Well, the FBI correlating the geographic locations of the anonymous emails with all the customers of the hotels and had a short list of people who stayed at all the specific hotels on all the specific days. A bit of additional research and …  BUSTED!

Today, with the FBI hot on the trail of leakers to reporters of multiple national news agencies, how could a person possibly have secure communication with a reporter?

Tough to do in a surveillance state.

Nicholas Weaver at Wired has some suggestions:  Hear Ye, Future Deep Throats: This Is How to Leak to the Press.

Look at the extremes needed to even have a shot at secure communication:

By email:

  • Buy a dedicated computer you won’t ever use for anything else.
  • Pay cash.
  • Drive to a coffee shop somewhere.
  • Leave behind every device can detect the internet – your phone, other computers, metro card. I would add every device that can record GPS data, such as your camera, GPS device, and possibly your car.
  • Pay only cash at the coffee shop if you buy something (I’d suggest staying outside the shop to stay off their camera).
  • When done, clear the browser, turn off wifi, pull the battery.

Think that’s hard core? It’s even more extreme for a phone.

Check out the creative ideas for using a phone, like buy the burn phone at a store with visibly old security cameras.

If you can’t follow the above protocols, then assume that everything you e-mail, text, or fax could be read by someone.

Live your life accordingly.

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