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Aaron Swartz's Open-Source Whistleblower Project Lives On

Freedom of the Press Foundation announces they will carry forward the work of the late transparency advocate

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Freedom of the Press Foundation will carry forward the work of the DeadDrop project, the "open-source whistleblower submission system originally coded by the late transparency advocate Aaron Swartz," the organization announced Tuesday.

FPF, which advocates for transparent and aggressive journalism to hold government accountable, will take over the system Swartz developed in collaboration with Wired investigative reporter Kevin Poulsen, and support media outlets that wish to use the program, which has been renamed 'SecureDrop.'

"By installing SecureDrop, news organizations around the world can securely accept documents from whistleblowers, while better protecting their sources’ anonymity,"  Trevor Timm and Rainey Reitman announced in a blog post for the organization. "Although it is important to note that no security system can ever be 100 percent impenetrable, Freedom of the Press Foundation believes that this system is the strongest ever made available to media outlets."

The New Yorker is the first media outlet so far to run a version of the program, with FPF expecting others to follow.


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“A truly free press hinges on the ability of investigative journalists to build trust with their sources,” FPF Executive Director Trevor Timm said. “The recent NSA revelations and record number of whistleblower prosecutions under the current administration have shown the grave challenges to this relationship and the lengths governments will go to undermine it."

Swartz, a free internet activist and widely renowned programmer, committed suicide in January, at the age of 26, after MIT worked with federal prosecutors to slam him with severe charges, including a potential 35-year prison sentence, for allegedly using MIT computers to download academic journals from JSTOR.

When Swartz passed away, the project was nearly completed.


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