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Summary:

The New Yorker has launched Strongbox, an open-source software system that allows users to submit confidential documents to the magazine anonymously. Strongbox was built by Aaron Swartz before his death.

The New Yorker on Wednesday launched Strongbox, an open-source system that allows readers to anonymously submit confidential documents. Strongbox was built by Aaron Swartz and Wired editor Kevin Poulsen. Strongbox lets users “share information, messages, and files with our writers and editors and is designed to provide you with a greater degree of anonymity and security than afforded by conventional e-mail.”

To submit documents, users must download the Tor Project software. They can then access Strongbox and submit information under a randomly generated code name. The New Yorker explains, “If a writer or editor at The New Yorker wants to contact you about the information you have submitted, he or she will leave a message for you in Strongbox. These messages are the only way we will be able to reach you, and this message can only be accessed using your code name.”

In a New Yorker blog post, Poulsen writes that he and Swartz began developing Strongbox, which was nicknamed DeadDrop, in 2011. He says:

“By December, 2012, Aaron’s code was stable, and a squishy launch date had been set. Then, on January 11th, he killed himself. In the immediate aftermath, it was hard to think of anything but the loss and pain of his death. A launch, like so many things, was secondary. His suicide also raised new questions: Who owned the code now? (Answer: he willed all his intellectual property to Sean Palmer, who gives the project his blessing.) Would his closest friends and his family approve of the launch proceeding? (His friend and executor, Alec Resnick, reports that they do.) The New Yorker, which has a long history of strong investigative work, emerged as the right first home for the system. The New Yorkersversion is called Strongbox; it went online this morning.”

  1. Very interesting. The interesting part for me is how the software works. I would guess it can be manipulated by topic, names, region, time and related topics, names etc. Who has access? Will it be the editors only?

    Well, we will see how this skakes out. It’s a new avenue for whistle blowers in all walks of life.

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  2. Paul lackman Thursday, May 16, 2013

    Strongbox sort of reminds me of htp://openinboxexperiment.com. Same concept, except that Strongbox is more tailored around submitting tips to the New York Times.

    Personally, I still prefer Open Inbox Experiment over alternatives. :)

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