Freedom of the Press Foundation Launches Campaign to Support Encryption Tools For Journalists


Executive Director

Crowd-funding Campaign Will Support A Variety of Open-Source Encryption Tools That Make Communications Between Journalists and Sources Safer


San Francisco, CA – December 5, 2013 – In its first year, Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) crowd-funded over $480,000 that went directly to cutting-edge journalism focused on transparency and accountability. Today, FPF is launching its next crowd-funding campaign to support open-source encryption tools for journalists, in light of the recent NSA revelations and the US government’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers.

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“Protecting the digital communications of journalists is turning into the press freedom fight of the 21st Century,” said Freedom of the Press Foundation executive director Trevor Timm. “The Obama administration has been able to prosecute a record number of whistleblowers largely by subpoenaing emails and phone calls. It’s clear that journalists can’t protect their own sources by just refusing to testify anymore, so we need tools that will help them.”

The two-month long campaign will support projects by proven security experts, who are working on making end-to-end encryption easier for phone calls, texts, instant messages, emails, and browsing the web. The projects are all open-source and free to use. They include:

  • The Tor Project, the organization conducting extensive research and building technology solutions, including the Tor Browser Bundle, used by journalists to anonymize their web browsing habits and physical location. The Tor Project is passionate about bringing technology, training, and greater awareness in digital security for journalists around the world.
  • Tails, a ground-breaking operating system that can be started on almost any computer from a DVD or USB stick and never touches your hard drive. Tails attempts to solve many surveillance problems by "doing the right thing" out of the box by default—from browsing the web anonymously, to using state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt files, email, and instant message.
  • RedPhone and TextSecure, the encrypted phone and texting apps created by renowned security expert Moxie Marlinspike and his project Open WhisperSystems. Both RedPhone and TextSecure are designed to implement end-to-end encryption, while simultaneously making those advancements as invisible and effortless as possible for the user.
  • LEAP Encryption Access Project, a new non-profit founded by long-time experts in the field of communications security, focuses on adapting encryption technology to make it easy to use and widely available. They have created an open source email system that automatically handles key management, decryption, and encryption, along with server software that allows any provider to offer email service that is compatible with the application.

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“I am honored to support these projects,” said Freedom of the Press board member Laura Poitras. “As the disclosures made by Edward Snowden reveal, mass dragnet surveillance and data retention pose a grave threat to the ability of journalists to protect sources. These encryption tools are created by people on the frontline of the fight to secure communications not just for journalists, but all citizens.”

“There are many apps out there now promising privacy, but encryption tools need to be completely open-source so they can be scrutinized by everyone,” said Freedom of the Press CTO and board member Micah Lee. “We’ve picked projects run by experts who value security over profit, with proven track records, who aren’t afraid to show their work so we know our communications will be safe.”

In addition to the bundle, donors can also support Freedom of the Press Foundation’s SecureDrop project, an open-source whistleblower submission system used by news organizations to receive documents from and communicate with sources. Freedom of the Press Foundation will be assisting over a dozen news organizations with installation and training.

“Freedom of the Press Foundation plans on making digital security for journalists our major initiative in 2014,” said executive director Trevor Timm. “We not only want to support these encryption tools, but train journalists how to use them. We will also continue to develop SecureDrop, along with other safe ways to communicate with sources.”

In addition to these encryption tools for journalists, Freedom of the Press Foundation will continue to take donations to WikiLeaks, since the journalism organization still cannot receive direct donations via some of the major payment processors, despite its publications being protected by the First Amendment.

Freedom of the Press Foundation was founded in the winter of 2012 to support and defend public-interest journalism organizations dedicated to transparency and accountability. The Foundation's Board of Directors is comprised of journalists and free expression advocates, including Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, John Cusack, Xeni Jardin, JP Barlow, Rainey Reitman, Trevor Timm, Josh Stearns, and Micah Lee.

Contact Information

Trevor Timm
Executive Director
[email protected]

Micah Lee
Chief Technology Officer
[email protected]

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