The New Yorker takes a page from WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks may have launched as a venue for publishing sensitive leaked information, but it eventually began working more closely with established media outlets to showcase its scoops.

Today, with the unveiling of its new Strongbox feature, the New Yorker is taking the next step, cutting out the middleman entirely and going straight to the whistleblower: Strongbox is a system similar to WikiLeaks's dropbox where sources can provide information to the magazine's reporters and editors through a system that can't record IP addresses, browsers, computers, or operating systems.

Strongbox uses the Tor network (designed by some of our FP Global Thinkers!) to ensure I.P. address anonymity, and provides users with randomly generated code names they can use to sign in (you can read more about how it works here).

The New Yorker actually isn't the first news organization to adopt the WikiLeaks model -- the Wall Street Journal tried something similar in 2011, though some noted at the time that the site had technical issues that could compromise anonymity (as AllThingD points out, the Journal hasn't said a lot about how much use it's gotten out of the site). The code for Strongbox, written by the famed late programmer/activist Aaron Swartz, is open source, which means we might well see other news organizations set up their own dropboxes in the near future (Swartz was working with the investigations editor at Wired to put the project together, for example).

In one sense, Strongbox isn't quite breaking new ground: sources have been leaking anonymously to news organizations ever since there was wrongdoing and people around to write about it. But as this week has shown, the protection of that anonymity has become more difficult -- even when news organizations try their hardest to maintain the privacy of sources. The secure dropbox was part of what initially made WikiLeaks innovative. Could it transform news reporting as well?



A new use for Gaza's smuggling tunnels: KFC delivery

Cement, cigarettes, and sugar are just a few of the goods transported through the many underground tunnels connecting Egypt and the blockaded Gaza Strip, which have often been described as a "vital lifeline." Now, thanks to an entrepreneurial Gaza-based delivery service, we can add a new -- if not entirely vital -- product to the list: Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

That's right, although there is no KFC in Gaza (the first one in the West Bank city of Ramallah opened just last year), Gazans can now get their beloved Colonel Sanders fix from Egypt. As China's Xinhua news agency reports:

The fried chicken make their way from one of the many underground smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.

Mohammed Al-Madani, an accountant at Al-Yamama company, said they started their new business by chance. "We ordered and arranged to bring some meals for us and they arrive after four hours," he said.

Then they posted a picture for the fast food on their company's website, and soon got more orders from the people in Gaza, he introduced....

"It's delicious even as it's not hot," said Aboud Fares, a 22- year-old student, as he bit a mouthful of a chicken breast. His sister, who traveled several times to Egypt, was enjoying the KFC apple pie.

While Al-Madani  aknowledges that Al-Yamama doesn't face many obstacles in getting the fast food combos from Egypt to Gaza, he says occasional delays are inevitable. "Sometimes Hamas checks the meal boxes and sometimes the taxi that picks up the orders from Sinai is late," he told Xinhua.

The company gets the word out by posting on its Facebook page each time it is making a run. And just in case you're interested, the next delivery of "Kentucky," as Al-Yamama affectionately calls it, is tomorrow. So hurry up and place your order (the deadline is Thursday at 6 pm, Gaza time).

Image via Al-Yamama Facebook Page