Friday, October 11, 2019
Whistleblowers take significant risks to address misconduct. The Publeaks platform, set up by Free Press Unlimited, enables them to share tips anonymously in the media. This month, journalists and investigators involved were given a digital safety traning for watertight source protection.

Since 2013, whistleblowers have been able to leak sensitive information anonymously to the press via Publeaks. It is just as important that journalists then treat this information safely. Therefore, journalists and investigators with access to Publeaks were given training in how to work with the platform.

“Due to the safety measures for whistleblowers, working with Publeaks requires some training and experience. The course gives the participants a good understanding of (the platform), and what’s more, sharing experiences it’s fun and informative,” says Publeaks board member, Xander van Uffelen.

Source protection

During the training, tools were used to protect the anonymity of the tipsters as well as possible, for example, working with the anonymous TOR browser, password managers and Tails, an operating system focused on privacy protection. Van Uffelen: “Journalists must also learn to work safely, because they must protect their sources.”

Thanks to Publeaks, in the Netherlands a number of issues came to light without revealing the identity of the tipster. For example, EenVandaag found out that dozens of unauthorised people had viewed the medical files of Samantha de Jong, better known as Barbie. Also thanks to Publeaks, the Volkskrant disclosed that for several years, 50Plus leader Henk Krol, then chief editor of the Gay Krant, had failed to pay his staff’s pension premiums.

New media

The training that took place this month in Amsterdam was aimed at new employees of media that have been working with Publeaks for a while and journalists and investigators of media that have recently joined the platform.

“The most important lesson we learned during the training is that we should give more attention to Publeaks,” says Shannon Bakker of Nu.nl. “It is also our job to ensure that people can find the platform so that we get more valuable tips.”

Luuk van der Sterren of Follow the Money adds: “For many of the tips we receive, a platform like Publeaks isn’t necessary. But occasionally there are sources that wish to share sensitive government documents, for example. It is important for those whistleblowers that a platform like Publeaks exists.”

Are you aware of any wrongdoing that you would like to share safely with the press or would you like to know more about Publeaks? See publeaks.nl for more information.