WSJ and Al-Jazeera Lure Whistleblowers With False Promises of Anonymity | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The success of Wikileaks in obtaining and releasing information has inspired mainstream media outlets to develop proprietary copycat sites. Al-Jazeera got into the act first, launching the Al-Jazeera Transparency Unit (AJTU), an initiative meant to “allow Al-Jazeera’s supporters to shine light on notable and noteworthy government and corporate activities which might otherwise go unreported.” AJTU assures users that “files will be uploaded and stored on our secure servers” and that materials “are encrypted while they are transmitted to us, and they remain encrypted on our servers.”

On May 5, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co., Inc., launched its own site, SafeHouse. That same day, the Atlantic published a story describing SafeHouse as a “secure uploading system” with “separate servers,” two layers of encryption, and a policy of discarding information about uploaders “as quickly as possible.” You can “keep yourself anonymous or confidential, as needed,” the SafeHouse site promises, as you “securely share documents with the Wall Street Journal.”

Immediately after its launch, however, online security experts ripped SafeHouse apart. The Atlantic published its story online at noon on May 5 and by 5 p.m., the page was updated with a link directing readers to the Twitter feed of Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher and Wikileaks volunteer, who had already exposed an embarrassing number of security problems with SafeHouse.

EFF’s review of the legal side of these websites doesn’t fare any better. While some of the more egregious technical problems with SafeHouse have been fixed since its launch, its terms of use haven’t changed. We read through the Terms of Service for both SafeHouse and AJTU (pdf). Don’t fall for the false promises of anonymity offered by these sites. Here’s what you should know.

continues at WSJ and Al-Jazeera Lure Whistleblowers With False Promises of Anonymity | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Nice try Wall Street Journal and al-Jazeera…maybe you should have remembered that you aren’t uber-l33t hax0rs. Now, for people who would perhaps be utilizing these services, I’d recommend OpenLeaks.org. It was started by a former Wikileaks member, and basically serves to provide an anonymous dropbox, then piping the information out to the publication of your choice (unlike Wikileaks, which just publishes the material on their own website). Make SURE you read the documentation though, because most anonymity problems involving systems like this come about because of the user not following directions.

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