The Wall Street Journal just announced it has established a secure mechanism that allows “newsworthy” materials to be uploaded to its separate, but internal, secure servers. The new service, Safehouse, is a logical outgrowth of the age-old newsgathering function. That noted, one can only imagine everyone scratching their heads saying, “What took you so long?” considering the international notoriety garnered by the most visible recent leak-gathering organization, WikiLeaks.
Legal Bytes was certainly not alone in highlighting the WikiLeaks phenomenon (see IMHO – Wiki Wiki True to Its Meaning), so it’s a bit surprising that traditional news organizations had not previously moved aggressively into the digital technology age with their news-gathering activities. That said, kudos to the industry for opting to enter the digital age on the input side of the process and create competition in this arena, just as competition among journalists has existed for centuries.
The presumption is the WSJ upload process will be secure and apparently anonymous – the accumulation of anonymous and pseudonymous tips, leaks and leads has long been part of every investigative reporter’s and journalist’s job. Other news organizations are also rumored to be working on similar services, although not having done an investigation myself, others perhaps may have already launched. The WSJ service will reportedly provide encrypted digital file transmissions and, according to the Safehouse website, will seek to minimize the amount of technical information (read that to mean, traceable information) that the service receives on its servers.
Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum is a partner in the New York office of Rimon, global chair of its Advertising Technology & Media law group – oh, and is the editor, publisher and often author of posts on Legal Bytes.