Top Canadian Broadcaster Embraces Encrypted Tech to Secure Whistleblowers

Top Canadian Broadcaster Embraces Encrypted Tech to Secure Whistleblowers © Flickr/

06:22 30.01.2016(updated 06:31 30.01.2016) Get short URL

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has embraced the use of powerful encryption to secure confidential information leaked by whistleblowers, as well as to conceal their identities.

CBC/Radio-Canada is now implementing an online submission system to protect sources that provide information, and to encrypt the contents of their stories.

The system, called SecureDrop, gives journalists and anyone providing potentially sensitive information with the opportunity to maintain contact securely and anonymously transfer documents. The system was originally designed by the late American computer programmer and Internet-freedom pioneer Aaron Swartz, and later adopted and implemented by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

To use the system, anyone wishing to transfer sensitive information must install a Tor network browser to anonymously surf the net. Then, using a SecureDrop URL provided by an organization like CBC, two parties will be able to maintain communication without the organization that is receiving the information knowing who is leaking the documents, according to the company report.

With adoption of the system, CBC hopes to improve the security of its investigative projects, including The Fifth Estate, Go Public and Marketplace.

According to Ryan Gallagher of The Intercept, the system can be useful in encouraging whistleblowers to come forward to expose “corruption, abuses of power, cover-ups.”

“In an age of pervasive government surveillance, it’s an absolutely vital means to communicate safely with confidential sources and whistleblowers,” he said, adding that SecureDrop acts as a defence for whistleblowers around the world.

Acknowledged news outlets including The New Yorker, The Washington Post and The Guardian have been using the system with positive results.

Julie Tate of the Washington Post noted that SecureDrop provides whistleblowers with a “safe environment” for communicating with reporters. She added that her newsroom uses the system as a source of information for news pieces on a daily basis.

Among other stories, the hack of some 70 million phone calls in jails across 37 US states was exposed using SecureDrop. The leaks detailed the one of the largest cases of violation of attorney-client privilege in US history.

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