Xnet Warns Whistleblowers: Beware of Fake Anonymous Whistleblowing Boxes

Posted in News at 01.12.2017

If you are a whistleblower, it’s important to protect your identity. Considering literally that everything you do online leaves metadata, many things could go wrong and lead to uncovering your identity and threatening your safety.

 


Photo by Xnet: “The proliferation of anonymous whistleblowing box that are not anonymous”.


X-net, an activist group advocating for digital rights and transparency has been working on a warning campaign for whistleblowers in Spain and beyond after spotting fake “anonymous mailboxes” including a number of institutional whistleblowing platforms that they listed in an article to denounce the phenomenon.

They’ve been putting up a campaign to put the spotlight on the confusion that the whistleblower may be victim of between “anonymized” and “anonymous” whistleblowing tools, the first literally means that you’re gonna trust someone to not share your identity, the second means effectively not sending your identity in the first place. Hence, it is crucial for your own safety to understand what digital anonymity means. No matter how tech-savvy you are, it is actually quite simple to comprehend. But no, it does not mean hiding your name when blowing the whistle!

Anonymous whistleblowing means two things: 1-anonymizing the content of your tip AND 2- and most important: your digital identity aka anonymizing your IP address. #AsSimpleAsThat

No reporting platforms can guarantee anonymity unless it involves the use of tools like Tor and Globaleaks.

Moved by the strong need to provide a user-friendly and safe digital tool to protect whistleblowers, The Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Rights has been developing since 2011 GlobaLeaks, a free open source software that enables the creation of anonymous whistleblowing platforms based on Tor end-to-end encryption technology.

A GlobaLeaks site utilizes Tor Onion Services in order to guarantee the anonymity of the source. Once the submission is performed on a GlobaLeaks platform, the file attachments are encrypted using PGP.

The only institutional whistleblowing platform that feature technical anonymity in Spain is “Bustia Etica”, the Anti-Corruption Complaint Box installed by Xnet for Barcelona City Hall.

These self-claimed “anonymous” whistleblowing boxes do not protect the whistleblower’s IP which means your complaint is sent along with your “identity card”, not so anonymous indeed…

 


Next time you hear about a presumably anonymous mailbox, you know what to double-check, it may not be anonymous even if your government says so!


Today Xnet officially launch their work on fake anonymous boxes. If you speak Spanish, do not forget to tune in on Sunday 3rd on the Spanish National Radio at 8:30 a.m. (Madrid time)!


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