Fairfax offers new platforms to protect whistleblowers

Fairfax Media will offer whistleblowers two ways of contacting investigative journalists at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, in the wake of Australian government metadata detention laws that heighten the risk of identification of sources.

The company has adopted the SecureDrop platform, a project of the US-based not-for-profit Freedom of the Press Foundation, and JournoTips by Whispli.

Announcing the availability of the platforms in a report published by Fairfax publications this week, The Age investigations editor Michael Batchelard said the SecureDrop system allowed messages and files to be passed as securely as possible to the investigative teams.

SecureDrop uses an anonymous network, encryption, and a clean operating system so that the information is, and remains, anonymous, from when it leaves the leaker’s desktop to when it arrives, Mr Batchelard said.

“Users must download and use the Tor browser before they can submit information. The communications trail is wiped routinely so information does not exist anywhere for long enough to be searched.”

He said the second solution, JournoTips, would allow more “impulsive” informants to speak up by securely and quickly passing messages and files to reporters without the need to enter their personal contact details. They could then converse anonymously.

“The system was created as a whistleblower system for corporations to allow their people to report wrongdoing, and has been modified for tip-offs,” Mr Batchelard wrote. “The platform encrypts all its communications, and effectively scrubs the IP address of the informant as the information hits the platform. Both methods are available from links embedded in the stories of our investigative reporters, and on the relevant web page.”

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