Guide to SecureDrop

Berret, Charles

This report offers a guide to the use and significance of SecureDrop, an in-house system for news organizations to securely communicate with anonymous sources and receive documents over the Internet. SecureDrop itself is a very young technology. It was developed over the last four years, beginning during the period when the WikiLeaks submission system was down and it was unclear how else whistleblowers could safely transmit large caches of data to journalists.

The history of SecureDrop’s conception and development is thus entwined with some of the most striking moments in the recent history of digital journalism: the arrival of Julian Assange as a charismatic force calling for radical transparency; the remarkable life of the technology activist Aaron Swartz; the bravery of Edward Snowden in revealing the level of surveillance now exercised by government agencies worldwide; and the resulting alliance between journalists, activists, and hackers who wish to ensure the accountability of powerful organizations by publishing information in the public interest.

Through interviews with the technologists who conceived and developed SecureDrop, as well as the journalists presently using it, this report offers a sketch of the concerns that drive the need for such a system, as well as the practices that emerge when a news organization integrates this tool into its news gathering routines.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Tow Center for Digital Journalism
Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University
Tow Center for Digital Journalism Publications
Published Here
July 11, 2017