Renowned Technologists, Journalists Join Freedom of the Press Foundation Technical Advisory Board

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Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting and defending public-interest journalism, is announcing a new technical advisory board that includes top-notch journalists, technologists and academics.

The new board’s mission, according to foundation director Trevor Timm, is to function as a think-tank for digital security. The panel will discuss and devise methods for journalists and news organizations to better protect their electronic communications from the prying eyes of governments, criminals and others.

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“Protecting digital communications is now the primary press freedom issue we’re going to face over the next decade,” Timm says. “The record number of source prosecutions, coupled with revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have shown that journalists must protect their sources from the moment they start speaking with them.”

The foundation, which crowd-funded more than $480,000 that went to journalism focused on transparency and accountability last year, has as its main mission the preservation and strengthening of journalists’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. Their most recent campaign has focused on crowd-funding for free and open source encryption tools that journalists can use to better communicate.

The new nine-member Technology Advisory Board includes Christopher Soghoian, Jacob Appelbaum, Elleanor Saitta, Morgan Marquis-Boire, Eva Galperin, Ashkan Soltani, Oktavia Jonsdottir, Kevin Poulsen, Runa Sandvik and Kelly Caine. A list of the advisory board members' bios can be found here.

Soghoian, ACLU's principal technologist and senior policy analyst, has long pushed for journalists and news organizations to upgrade their security practices to account for governments' invasive surveillance practices.

"Journalists have an obligation to both their sources and readers to practice proper digital security," Soghoian says. "Unfortunately their knowledge on how to protect themselves falls far below the various actors attempting to spy on them. Freedom of the Press Foundation can fill a much-needed hole for journalists and we hope this advisory board can help them do it in as effective a way as possible."

Soltani, an independent privacy researcher and consultant, has also reported on many privacy and surveillance related stories with the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

“A common issue, a common mistake, is that no one is really investing time to figure out what solutions journalists need and what tools will work for them,” Soltani says. “It requires a number of experts to really take the time and delve into the underlying security and usability of tools to help journalists secure their communications.”

The advisory board is a mixture of technologically sophisticated journalists, technologists, researchers and academics. “We’re getting all of these people together to create an ideas lab for how we can better help journalists and news organizations protect themselves,” Timm says.

Toward that goal, advisory board member Kevin Poulsen, the investigations editor at WIRED, originally developed SecureDrop along with current Freedom of the Press Foundation staffer James Dolan and the late Aaron Swartz.  “Press freedom today depends as much on technology as policy,” Poulsen says.

The foundation currently assists news agencies and journalists on how to use SecureDrop, an open-source whistleblower submission system that is being deployed by the New Yorker, Forbes, Pro Publica, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and the Intercept. For installation and inquires about training assistance, click here.

Two other respected technologists, Micah Lee and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also sit on the foundation's board of directors. FPF has previously published a comprehensive guide to digital security, called "Encryption Works: How to Protect Yourself in the Age of NSA Surveillance."

Contact Information

Trevor Timm
Executive Director
[email protected]

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