AfriLeaks -- A New, Secure Website for Whistleblowers in Africa
AfriLeaks is a new whistleblower website aimed at safely connecting whistleblowers with investigative journalists to expose corruption and human rights abuses in Africa. It was developed in partnership with Italy’s Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights and the Africa Network of Centers for Investigative Journalism and is run by an alliance of African news organizations – including the Zambian Watchdog, the South African Mail and Guardian, and 100 Reporters — that are “committed to speaking truth to power.” AfriLeaks joins other secure websites where whistleblowers can report information or send documents anonymously to reporters, non-profits, or the government, including Elder Justice, Food Safety, and WildLeaks.
AfriLeaks ensures anonymity by using a Tor network, which anonymizes the internet connection so a whistleblower’s identity is protected both from the reporters who receive the documents and from others who might be intercepting communications. AfriLeaks differs from other “leaks” websites, such as WikiLeaks, because documents shared on AfriLeaks are sent directly to reporters as “tips” rather than being shared directly on the internet. A whistleblower even has the opportunity to nominate the media organization they want to want to receive the leaks. They can also choose to remain anonymous or continue to be part of the subsequent investigation.
In Africa, in particular, anonymity is critical. Giovanni Pellerano, one of the architects behind the Afrileaks software said, “in terms of investigations, there are various challenges that affect whistleblowers…censoring, surveillance, legal liability, physical risk, intimidation, and other issues. But all these restraints are exacerbated, to a great extent, in African countries.” Investigative journalist Leigh Baldwin agreed, saying “too often, corruption and human rights violations go unreported in Africa because of the risks faced by sources…by connecting leakers directly with trusted partners, AfriLeaks provides a way for local and international journalists to work together to expose abuses and get important stories out.”