Blowing The Whistle


A USB drive encrypted at the hardware level.

“In the wake of this year’s disclosure, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless.”

– Edward Snowden

Would-be whistleblowers, please jump to your section below.

To all supporters of privacy and whistleblowers: the best way to fight the dragnet is to encrypt everything. It’s not too hard. The best crypto tools are all free and open source, and the Reset The Net campaign has made them easy to set up with its Privacy Pack. Secondarily, the CryptoParty wiki has a ton of information. The Guardian Project creates mobile tools, and PRISMbreak is an exhaustive list. Support the cause by supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation and members of The most active locally-distributed organization around this issue appears to be Restore The Fourth.

June 2014 update: The encryption behind Off-The-Record (OTR) chat has some holes, according to the Reset the Net folks. That’s a shame, because it’s super easy to use. They say it can still thwart dragnet surveillance but can’t be trusted for situations in which you could be targeted. If you still want to use it, you can find me as “Typewriter1787” on the XMPP server

To would-be whistleblowers:

Don’t just email me (hey -at- brandonsmith -dot- com) from accounts that are associated with you already: work, personal. Create a new account from a computer and an internet connection that doesn’t tie back to you at all.

If you’re not yet familiar with strong crypto tools, you don’t need to teach yourself now. In fact, please don’t investigate them on your home or work computers. (Out-of-the-way internet cafes might work, but leave your cell at home and pay cash for transit.)

If you want true privacy in speaking with me, send a paper letter—without a return address on the outside—to Brandon Smith, 444 N. Wabash, Fifth Floor, Chicago, IL 60611. Propose an in-person meeting downtown around lunchtime, or elsewhere in the evening or on a weekend. Again, we’ll pay cash for transit and leave our electronics behind.

Please remember: if you’re preparing sensitive documents, make sure you don’t leave a digital trace of that action. At least, don’t leave one that’s out-of-the-ordinary for you or the material.

If you already use PGP regularly and safely, I have a public key. (It’s 4096-bit RSA and its ID starts with “9DB.”). This isn’t my most secure key, but it’s a start, and we can move to a more secure one soon.

Search my e-mail address, hey -at- brandonsmith -dot- com, on public keyservers like or

Look forward to hearing from you.



4 responses to “Blowing The Whistle

  1. Mr. Smith,

    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 / M: 312.882.1853 (EST)

  2. 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!

  3. A better contact than email? works to reach me. Otherwise my cell is 740-505-0038.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s