One of the most significant realizations to emerge since the Edward Snowden revelations, is the understanding that we need more secure tools for would be whistle-blowers to more easily provide sensitive information in a secure and anonymous manner. As such, we have seen the deployment of encrypted drop boxes by several media outlets. I highlighted one of these a little over a year ago called Strongbox, which was a project announced by the New Yorker and was what Aaron Swartz was working on just before his death.
Recently, the Washington Post and the Guardian have released something similar called SecureDrop. The Washington Post described it as such:
Users may have noticed a button on The Washington Post homepage called “SecureDrop.” The new feature enables confidential sources to contact The Post and share documents in an encrypted fashion. The Post launched this feature to offer even more security and anonymity to sources.
Naturally, this sort of potential transparency and ease of exposing corruption and criminality is not welcome within the halls of government. As such, the reaction from Obama Administration lawyers is to issue subpoenas for information so that they can avoid cracking the encryption and the U.S. legal system altogether.
ArsTechnica reports that:
It’s not shadowy spies or engineers from the National Security Agency secretly reading the hundreds of tips about government fraud that the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has received in less than a month.
Instead, it’s lawyers from the President Barack Obama administration employing the power of the administrative subpoena in a bid to siphon data from POGO’s encrypted submission portal. POGO’s site encourages whistleblowers to use Tor as the gateway and has garnered more than 700 tips about abuse and mismanagement at the US Veterans Administration after less than a month of operation.
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