What with the Justice Department seizing AP phone records, Nicholas Weaver is thinking about how a modern-day whistleblower can safely leak info to the media without being identified. The sad truth, he writes in Wired, is that "we now live in a world where public servants informing the public about government behavior or wrongdoing must practice the tradecraft of drug dealers and spies." His tips:
- If by email: You'll need to buy—with cash—a cheap laptop or tablet you only use for this purpose. Don't log on to any of your accounts on the device, ever, and take it to a coffee shop with open WiFi a good distance from your home and work. (Leave "anything that speaks over a wireless link," including your cellphone or even your metro card, at home, and use cash if you buy anything at the cafe or take public transportation to get there.) Open a new Gmail account that you will only use for this purpose, and don't use any of your personal information when signing up. After sending your email, clear all cookies, turn off WiFi on the device, shut it down, and take out the battery.
- If by phone: Get a prepaid cellphone at "a small liquor store in a low-income neighborhood," preferably one with old security cameras (or have someone else buy the phone for you), and follow all of the previous advice while buying it. Then, while the phone is off with its battery removed, go somewhere else. Turn it on, make the call, turn it back off, and remove the battery again.
- If you need to get rid of any of the aforementioned devices, use a "secure erase" to wipe it, then demolish it with a hammer, put it in some other trash like a fast food bag, and throw it away in a public trashcan.
If this seems a bit overkill, it's not, Weaver writes. "We now live in a surveillance dystopia beyond Orwell’s Big Brother vision." Click for Weaver's full column