Python Powered Journalistic Freedom With SecureDrop


September 9th, 2019

38 mins 22 secs

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About this Episode


The internet has made it easier than ever to share information, but at the same time it has increased our ability to track that information. In order to ensure that news agencies are able to accept truly anonymous material submissions from whistelblowers, the Freedom of the Press foundation has supported the ongoing development and maintenance of the SecureDrop platform. In this episode core developers of the project explain what it is, how it protects the privacy and identity of journalistic sources, and some of the challenges associated with ensuring its security. This was an interesting look at the amount of effort that is required to avoid tracking in the modern era.


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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Jen Helsby and Kushal Das about SecureDrop, a secure platform for submitting and receiving documents anonymously


  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by describing what SecureDrop is and how it got started?
    • How did you get involved in the project?
  • Can you give some background on where and why it is useful?
  • For someone using a running instance, what does their workflow look like?
    • What are some of the ways that you minimize user experience hurdles to prevent them from circumventing the security through laziness or apathy?
  • I was a bit surprised to see the references to the messaging system that is included. Why is that an important feature?
  • What form do the submissions generally take and what are the limits on formats that you can accept?
  • How is the system itself architected and how has the design evolved since the first implementation?
  • In terms of the security protocols and technologies that are implemented, what factors are you considering as you develop the project?
    • What are the weak points or edge cases that could lead to compromise and how do you guard against them?
  • In terms of the deployment and maintenance of a SecureDrop instance, how much technological sophistication is necessary for the organization running it, and how much effort do you put into simplifying it?
  • What are some of the notable uses of a SecureDrop deployment and what motivates you to continue working on it?
  • What are the most interesting/innovative/unexpected uses of SecureDrop that you have seen?
  • How do you approach the sustainability of the platform?
  • What have you found most challenging/interested/unexpected in your work on SecureDrop?
  • What is in store for the future of the project?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA