Over the past 30 years, I have dealt with and protected hundreds of confidential sources. I understand how difficult it can be to decide to share information if you fear retaliation. This page explains various ways that you can protect yourself and still make a difference. Read all the information on this page and then decide how you want to proceed.
It is your choice whether you identify yourself or want to be anonymous. If you want to be anonymous, it’s best to create a fake name email account on Tutanota or a similar encrypted free email service that does not store identifying information. Only ever log in to this account when you are away from work and using your own personal computer or mobile device, such as from home or at a public wifi hotspot.
Please note that information supplied by anonymous sources has to be independently verified. This can impede News Nanaimo from publishing the information.
If you are willing for me to know your name but don’t want me to publish it, that is something we must agree on when we first make contact and before you share any information. I will not disclose the fact that you contacted me. Any information unnamed sources provide will be independently verified by me.
Of course, you may be willing for your name to be published, in which case it may be easier for me to publish information you provide because I can be more certain of its veracity. However, this does depend on the nature of the information you have.
Use this information to make initial contact:
Sending us documents
Mailing of printed documents in an envelope is often the best approach. It’s simple, low-tech and totally anonymous, if that’s what you want. Contact us via email as explained above for an address to send to or to arrange a drop off location.
If you have a large number of documents, you can store them in electronic format on a USB flash drive, CD or DVD. If you want extra security for the files in case they are intercepted, save them in the Tails operating system and then later contact us with the password we need to open the files.
As an extra safeguard, consider using a different post office than your usual one and write a false return address. Remember to triple check the sending address since it can’t be returned.
Tails is an operating system that can hide itself on your computer without a trace and keeps your files encrypted. You need to install Tails on a memory device, such as a USB key. That key can then be used on any computer. It leaves no trace of the operating system or any changes made to files contained within it.
Once you have the documents, you can email them, again from the fake email account while logging in on a free wifi network using a personal device with Tails installed. To completely hide the location from where you are sending the files, use the Tor browser.
Alternatively and if the files are too large to email, you can send the electronic files via snail mail on a USB or DVD that is locked with a password. You could also upload them to Google Drive or Dropbox or another cloud hosting site and send us an invite to access them.
If you are sending an electronic file, it’s important to know that there’s a wealth of invisible data linked to the document. For example, a Microsoft Word document might have metadata that includes mundane details such as file size and date of the document’s creation, but also more revealing information such as the author, the person who most recently modified the file and any tracked changes to the material.
The simplest way to strip such data is to print the document, scan it and then send the scanned version. Various programs — such as Microsoft Word — have menu options that enable you to remove personal information.
There are also tools that remove metadata in batches of documents. Converting a Word document to a PDF can also help. But be careful: these tools may not remove all the metadata.