Introduction

by Laura Poitras

Field of Vision accepts submissions of audio/visual material from the public, but because people who send us this material could be putting themselves at risk, Field of Vision has set up a platform to make this process easier and more secure.

Below are detailed security instructions written by Micah Lee. Micah is the person who initially connected me to Edward Snowden in early 2013 and was instrumental in bringing the NSA story to the public. You can read his story here.

The instructions below are dense and complex. Micah has written them with the goal of providing security guidelines for sources who need them most. Not everyone is in that category and you might not need to take all of these precautions.

One thing I’ve learned in the last decade of reporting on national security issues is that encryption tools and security methods that sound complicated when you don’t think you need them, suddenly become straightforward when you or a source have their life on the line. It is not brain surgery. Your own particular threat model will determine which of these steps you need to take if you are thinking of submitting video or images to Field of Vision. Our basic step-by-step instructions can be found here. If you need more knowledge, keep reading.

Security Instructions and Guidelines

by Micah Lee

While our website has been protected with HTTPS encryption from the beginning, and all of our staff publish their PGP keys on their staff profiles so that readers can send them encrypted email, this alone isn’t enough to protect the anonymity of sources.

If you want to communicate with us without exposing your real-world identity, here are security guidelines for communicating with us using our SecureDrop server, an open source whistleblower submission system.

What Not To Do

If you’d like to prevent your employer or your government from knowing that you’re submitting material to use, here are some things you should not do:

Don’t contact us from work. Most corporate and government networks log traffic.

Don’t email us, call us, or contact us on social media. Most of the ways that people communicate over the Internet or phone networks are incredibly insecure.

Don’t tell anyone that you’re a source. Even if you plan on coming out as the leaker at some point in the future, you have a much better chance of controlling the narrative about you if you are deliberate.

As journalists we will grant anonymity to sources if the circumstances warrant it — for example, when a source risks recrimination by disclosing something newsworthy. If we make such an agreement with you, we will do everything in our power to prevent ourselves from being compelled to hand over your identity.

That said, in extreme cases, the best way to protect your anonymity may be not to disclose your identity even to us.

What To Worry About

Here are some steps you should take to protect yourself:

Be aware of your habits. If you have access to secret information that has been leaked, your activities on the internet are likely to come under scrutiny, including what sites you have visited or shared to social media. Make sure you’re aware of this before leaking to us, and adjust your habits well before you decide to become our source. Tools like Tor (see below) can help protect the anonymity of your surfing.

Compartmentalize and sanitize. Keep your leaking activity separate from the rest of what you do.

If possible, use a completely separate operating system (such as Tails, discussed below) for all of your leaking activity so that a forensic search of your normal operating system won’t reveal anything. If you can’t keep things completely separate, then make sure to clean up after yourself as best as you can. For example, if you realize you did a Google search related to leaking while logged into your Google account, delete your search history. Consider keeping all files related to leaking on an encrypted USB stick rather than on your computer, and only plug it in when you need to work with them.

Strip metadata from audio/visual materials. Videos and photographs often include metadata that could be used to de-anonymize you. If you send us files that include metadata, we will strip it for you before we publish it.

How To Actually Leak

Now that we have that straight, here’s how to go about contacting us securely:

Go to a public WiFi network. Before following any further directions, grab your personal computer and go to a network that isn’t associated with you or your employer, such as at a coffee shop. Ideally you should go to one that you don’t already frequent. Leave your phone at home, and buy your coffee with cash.

Get the Tor Browser. You can download the Tor Browser here. When you browse the web using the Tor Browser, all of your web traffic gets bounced around the world, hiding your real IP address from websites that you visit. In order to start a conversation with us using our SecureDrop server, you must use Tor.

Consider using Tails instead. If you are worried about your safety because of the information you’re considering leaking, it might be prudent to take higher security precautions than just using Tor Browser. If someone has hacked into your computer, for example, they’ll be able to spy on everything you do even if you’re using Tor. Tails is a separate operating system that you can install on a USB stick and boot your computer to. Tails is engineered to make it hard for you to mess up:

Tails leaves no traces that it was ever run on your computer

  • It’s non-persistent, which means that if you got hacked last time you were using Tails, the malware should be gone the next time you boot up
  • All Internet traffic automatically goes through Tor, so it’s much harder to accidentally de-anonymize yourself
  • It has everything that you need to contact us through SecureDrop built-in, as well as other popular encryption tools
  • It’s the operating system that Edward Snowden used to leak NSA documents
  • It sounds complicated, and it is. But if you’re risking a lot, it’s probably worth the effort. You can find instructions for downloading and installing Tails here.

Use SecureDrop to communicate with us. You can use our SecureDrop server to securely and anonymously send us messages, read replies, and upload material. If you have access to audio/visual material that you’re considering leaking, you can use SecureDrop to just start a conversation with us until you’re comfortable sending in any documents.

Our SecureDrop servers are under the physical control of Field of Vision. When you interact with our SecureDrop servers, we don’t log any information about your IP address, web browser, or operating system, nor do we deliver persistent cookies to your browser. When you use Tor to connect to our SecureDrop server, your connection is encrypted. Using the Tor network helps mask your activity from anyone that is monitoring your Internet connection, and it helps mask your identity from anyone monitoring our Internet connection.

When you send messages or upload files to this server, these messages and files are stored encrypted. Field of Vision stores the encryption keys on air-gapped computers that never connect to the Internet. Even if our SecureDrop server got hacked or the physical hardware got confiscated, the messages and files you have submitted previously should still be shielded from the attacker.

You can access our SecureDrop server by going to http://tsdgultcavajhyjx.onion/ in Tor Browser. This is a special kind of URL that only works in Tor (even though the URL starts with “http://” and not “https://”, the connection between Tor Browser and our SecureDrop server is encrypted). This is what you’ll see:

To learn more about safely using SecureDrop as a source, check the official guide for sources document.

Sending Us Large Files

Tor makes everything you do online much slower, and uploading gigabytes of files to our SecureDrop server might not be practical. In these cases, sending your material via mail is an option. Our mailing address is:

Field of Vision 114 Fifth Avenue, 19th Floor New York, NY 10011

In the United States a warrant is required to open postal mail. Even so, if you do plan on mailing us material there are a few steps you should take to protect your identity.

Make sure you include enough postage on your package, and mail it from an unfamiliar public mailbox. Don’t include a return address. When you write our address, be careful not to betray your handwriting. Depending on the risks you’re taking, you may wish to avoid leaving fingerprints or DNA.

If you’re mailing digital material such as on a hard drive, a USB stick, an SD card, or a DVD, it is safest to encrypt the data before sending it to us using a tool like VeraCrypt, so that only a strong password can unlock it. You can tell us the password separately using SecureDrop. This way, even if the package gets intercepted, the data you’re sending, and your anonymity, will remain safe.

If you’re considering sending us sensitive material in the form of large files, you’re welcome to start a conversation with us using SecureDrop ahead of time. We can walk you through the various options, help make sure you’re following the proper steps, and help you use the encryption software necessary to do so securely.

Before directing Field of Vision’s latest film, “Duterte’s Hell,” with Aaron Goodman, Luis Liwanag worked as a photojournalist for local and foreign press in the Philippines. In the following essay, he reflects on his transition from taking still photographs to filmmaking, and what it was like to capture the horrors of President Duterte’s “war on drugs.

I discovered photography when I was 11. My family did not own a single camera, but our neighborhood sorbetero [ice cream vendor] had a twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera and would take our family photos for us. I remember we had so many that when I opened my mother’s closet, dozens of photo albums would cascade down from the shelves. My dad, an artist and illustrator, kept stacks of old National Geographic, Time, and Life magazines tucked away in his filing cabinet. I bought my first camera at age 12: a Kodak Instamatic. I guess you could say I was destined to be in this line of work.

As a kid, I would just snap pictures of my friends in school. As an adult, being a photographer has given me the power to make observations about daily life in my country and voice my opinion on certain issues.

When President Rodrigo Duterte came into power, the rampage of extrajudicial killings started. My fellow journalists were covering the night shifts at the police headquarters. Reports would come in—either from radio dispatch or via Twitter—and they would travel to crime scenes in convoys. It was only a matter of time before I decided to started going with them, to see the effects of Duterte’s war on drugs for myself.

A mother cries for her dead son, who was shot dead inside an apartment during a police operation. She claims her son is not a drug pusher and was actually helping the police as an informer. Luis Liwanag

Shooting this and other documentaries has been transformative experience for me. When working as a hired photojournalist, I didn’t really set up my shots—I just filmed whatever is happening right in front of me.

And as I witnessed the aftermath of the slayings, I felt like I was reconnecting to my old self. I was a police beat photographer at the onset of my career, but later shifted to more varied issues and mainstream news coverage. I became focused on issues dictated by the editorial policies of media entities that employed me.

Now, as a freelancer—and particularly with this film—I’ve had the leeway to choose stories that I feel I can interpret better visually. And although the nightly spate of killings numbed me in some ways, I felt for the people directly or indirectly affected by them.

An elderly woman is comforted by her relatives after witnessing her son dead on the pavement in a dark alley in Tondo, Manila. Luis Liwanag

A couple of months into photographing the killings in Manila and its surrounding metro area, Aaron Goodman, an educator and video journalist whom I had worked with previously, saw my images on social media and asked me if I was interested in collaborating with him on a video documentary about Duterte’s drug war.

A suspected drug user lies dead on the ground in Tondo, Manila. Witnesses say he was shot in the face by masked men. Luis Liwanag

While filming, we had to maintain a low-key lighting style, and only expose for the midtones. I wanted to be unobtrusive and invisible while shooting the events so that we left as few traces of ourselves as possible.

Bodies of several young men lie inside a house on Agham Road in Quezon City after they allegedly shot back at police operative during an alleged drug raid. Luis Liwanag
Police flaslights reveal a dead body found during an investigation of a crime scene in Mandaluyong City. The killing was allegedly perpetrated by masked vigilantes who hogtied the victim before he was shot. Luis Liwanag

We had a limited amount of time to set up each shot. When you’re filming events as they unfold, you don’t really have control over what is going to happen. You have to visualize the image in your mind’s eye beforehand, and shoot whatever occurs in the moment.

While filming, we were very attuned to the sounds, textures, emotions and details of each scene. My approach was to linger in a single framed shot as if it was a single image and slowly transition into another well-composed frame and capture the entire story happening between those frames.

Although I am an advocate of still photographs and what photography great Henri Cartier- Bresson calls “the decisive moment,” I have discovered that video, though more fleeting, can be equally powerful in stringing together single images to make a powerful statement.

See Goodman and Liwanag’s film here:

To see more work by Luis Liwanag, visit his website here. To see the work of Aaron Goodman, visit his website here.

STANLEY NELSON AND LAURA POITRAS PRODUCED DOC SHORT SERIES TO PREMIERE ONLINE AT FUSION

New York, NY (May 17, 2017) - Starting May 18, 2017, Fusion will unveil the first in a series of short films from the Our 100 Days initiative from Firelight Media and Field of Vision. The films explore threats to U.S. democracy and the stories of targeted communities in the current highly polarized political climate. Episodes will be released weekly, beginning with directors Sofian Khan and Nausheen Dadabhoy’s Act of Worship, a rare behind-the-scenes look at CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a champion of civil rights for Muslims in the US that finds itself in the crosshairs of a new administration’s policies.

“The current moment in the U.S. is a result of our collective refusal to tell the whole story of America. Not only do we need new stories, we need new storytellers. At Firelight, we have been committed to supporting storytellers of color for many years,” shares documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson. “The partnership with Field of Vision has allowed us to deepen that support by providing filmmakers of color with the resources and platform necessary to create powerful cinematic narratives that deepen our understanding of these frightening times.”

The series will also feature work from filmmakers: Cecilia Aldarondo, Chelsea Hernandez & Iliana Sosa, Adele Pham, Lorena Manriquez & Marlene McCurtis, Nadia Hallgren, and Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman. The films examine, among other topics, the immigration issue through the intimate lens of motherhood; a history of racially-motivated violence in one of America’s most iconic liberal cities; the fight for protections for trans students through the lens of one Virginia teenager; and the rapid response by Muslim attorneys navigating the chaotic rollout of the travel ban.

“This collaboration with Firelight is a way to channel our collective horror about Trump's election. By documenting these first 100 days from the perspective of communities most at risk - immigrants, Muslim Americans, transgender men and women - we want to reveal the threats our country is facing, and not normalize this political moment,” says Field of Vision co-creator Laura Poitras.

Fusion Editor-in-Chief Dodai Stewart adds, "This series of beautiful short films — highlighting social and economic injustices — aligns with Fusion’s mission to cover underrepresented people and amplify the voices of the vulnerable."

In an effort to maximize the reach and impact of the films, local and national organizations will participate in weekly Twitter chats to engage the broad public in online conversations about the issues in the films. The Twitter chats will occur at 1pm ET / 10am PT every Thursday throughout the series run using the #Our100Days hashtag and will be moderated by Firelight Media. The weekly Twitter chats will give online viewers an opportunity to delve deeper into the issues and engage with the film directors, protagonists, and partner organizations.

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ABOUT FIELD OF VISION

Field of Vision is a filmmaker-driven documentary unit that commissions and creates original short-form nonfiction films about developing and ongoing stories around the globe. Field of Vision is committed to making cinematic work that tells the stories of our world from different perspectives. Our films are distributed through a variety of partners including news organizations, film festivals, online platforms, broadcast, streaming and cable.

ABOUT FIRELIGHT MEDIA & FIRELIGHT FILMS

Firelight produces award-winning films that expose injustice, illuminate the power of community and tell a history seldom told, and connects films with concrete and innovative ways for diverse audiences to be inspired, educated, and mobilized into action. Through our Documentary Lab, Firelight is dedicated to developing and supporting talented, diverse documentary filmmakers who advance underrepresented stories, moving them from the margins to the forefront of mainstream media through high quality, powerful productions.

ABOUT FUSION

Fusion is news for the new America: a young, diverse, social justice-minded audience.

MEDIA CONTACT After Bruce PR Tracy Nguyen-Chung [email protected] 503-701-2115

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