If you have information for a possible story, ONLY reach out via the app Signal. (Signal works like any other text-based messenger.) That’s because, even if you reach out with Signal later, if you’ve used something else first, the trace of that “something else” remains. Signal doesn’t leave anything behind to be found.
Send possible story information from a personal device that doesn’t have any software from your employer on it. Brandon’s number is 740-505-0038. If your information is a matter of national security, skip down to the special starred section. If it’s not “NatSec” but you still want to try to remain anonymous, read the three pointers herein:
1. Again, don’t reach out over any channel other than Signal.
2. Think about who has access to what you need to share. If only, say, three people have access, you face much greater odds of being discovered than if 40 people can access the material. In the former case it might be easier to pass along a description of what I (Brandon) should ask for in a Freedom of Information request. Unless you think it’s so egregious that the material is at risk of being destroyed or hidden if I asked for it or eventually sued for it.
3. If you’re preparing sensitive documents to send, every move on a computer or smartphone—printing, emailing, copying to a flash drive—leaves a digital trace that can be found later with enough expertise. So, try to only make these moves from devices or accounts that would make the moves in the course of normal work. Then we’ll discuss how long is feasible to wait to publish, so as to lose the signal your adversaries want amid the noise of business.
*****If your information is a matter of national security*****
…You’ll attract the attention of investigators that are far less bound by public law and far more well-equipped with forensic and surveillance tools. Thus you’ll have to take additional precaution. Don’t send information or documents immediately. It’s more secure to arrange an in-person meeting with security safeguards built into the meeting itself. Using Signal on a personal device should be an adequate way to set up that meeting. (Just so long as the device isn’t likely to have been compromised with targeted surveillance prior to this exchange. In that case, maybe use a non-NatSec friend’s device for the contact.) Please remember that if you haven’t downloaded Signal some time ago, the time stamp of downloading it just prior to our contact could be used to identify you. Again, the phone of a distant friend could come in handy. Prior to meeting, Brandon will ask:
1. Whether you have document evidence
2. What you think the document(s) show(s)
3. Whether you obtained them via work, or otherwise how you obtained them
If you have had PGP/GPG set up for some time and you’re fully certain that no machine on which your private key has been stored has been the recipient of malware… I suppose you can send me an encrypted email. Just be aware that it’s difficult to ensure the absence of malware at any point your private key has been on a machine.
For truly secure transmissions, I have another key whose public portion has not been on public servers and can find a way to relay that to you. But here is the fingerprint of the public key I make available for reasonably secure messages:
828F D717 DDD3 7D96 577A 3ACD 3F8E C591 9DB6 D943
My address again is hey -at- brandonsmith -dot- com.
Look forward to hearing from you.
4 thoughts on “Blowing The Whistle”
My name is Davina Jones, the new Program Director for Adler’s graduate studies in Media and Communications for Social Change (MAMC) that is set to launch March 2016. Straight to the point:
•We desire to graduate media practitioners as change agents.
•We believe that media (radio, tv, internet, social media – video images, etc) has always been key to social movements and pursuits toward social justice.
•I would like to speak with you/interview you on record to discuss for our upcoming students, community partners and media practitioners (free lance and otherwise) your take on the role of media in cases like this; why we can’t always depend on mainstream outlets, why we must be persistent and strategic….or whatever you would like to contribute to the dialogue.
I have a working theory that social movements and justice are generally governed by a few constants: a tip, a voice, an action step, and economic impact (follow the money) – coined by your’s truly. Rosa Parks was the “tip” for the Montgomery Boycott. Had she not refused to give up her seat, there is no reason to believe that NAACP would have initiated a boycott in that very moment that changed history – though they were already active. It appears that you, Mr. Smith, were the “tip” for the pursuit of social justice in the case of Mr. McDonald. Had you given up on your request, knowing -as it appears- that others were denied, we may not have access to that video today, thus no march, no press conference, etc.
Kindly let me know if you accept my invitation. Details can be worked out with our technology team, etc. upon notice from you. I work primarily from Florida, but a trip to Chicago can be arranged if technology does not offer us a most appropriate discussion platform.
Dr. Davina Jones, Program Director
Media and Communications for Social Change
Adler University – Global Campus
email@example.com / M: 312.882.1853 (EST)
Hey Brandon, wasn’t sure how to get ahold of you. Sorry if this isn’t the best way! Just wanted to say thank you so much for your words at the CPCP meeting today. At one point you said, “I see so many people doing religion and not doing justice. So I decided to do justice and not religion.” These words hit me hard. The first part of that is profoundly true and I am incredibly thankful for people like you who would be honest enough to say that and courageous enough to do what you’re doing. Yours is a voice that needs to be heard and it was a blessing to hear it today. So thank you!
Thank you so much for your kind words.
A better contact than email? Hey@brandonsmith.com works to reach me. Otherwise my cell is 740-505-0038.