Safeguarding and Verifying Leaked Data

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March 10, 2020
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March 10, 2020

Safeguarding and Verifying Leaked Data

While many people seem eager to find and share information—not everyone agrees on what should be published, and by whom.

Many social movements worldwide have encouraged the leaking of sensitive information to the press, to hackers and to other governments. While many people seem eager to find and share information—not everyone agrees on what should be published, and by whom.

In January 2020, a massive leak involving more than 700,000 documents implicated one of Africa’s wealthiest people, Isabel dos Santos, in a massive scheme of fraud and money laundering. Before publishing it, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) launched a sweeping investigation into dos Santos, the billionaire former first daughter of Angola. Some 370 journalists from 76 countries collaborated on the investigation. She has since been accused of embezzlement, influence peddling, harmful management, forgery of documents and other so-called “economic crimes” by Angola’s top prosecutor.

Previously, the ICIJ spent a year reporting on a massive cache of 11.5 million leaked records they had received from a little-known law firm in Panama. These “Panama Papers” showed the offshore holdings of 140 politicians from around the world, 12 current and former world leaders, and more. In the summer of 2017, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs issued a report titled “State Secrets: How an Avalanche of Media Leaks Is Harming National Security” and cited 125 stories with leaked information that the committee considered damaging to national security.

Media organizations like the New York Times and the Guardian have secure sections on their websites where people can safely upload sensitive documents to journalists, and now political action groups and activists are seeking confidential document leaks, too. You can expect to see more coordinated efforts to leak—and to securely receive leaked data—in 2020 and beyond.