Send an anonymous tip

Have you seen something that troubles you or that you think should be a story? Do you have a tip we should be investigating? Do you have documents or other materials we should see?

Open Council’s anonymous tip page offers readers a secure method of relaying information or documents to our investigative journalists.

Form

In order to send untraceable, anonymous messages to Open Council, you should follow these steps:

  1. Go to a local coffee shop or other public area with free wifi.
  2. Download and install the Tor browser. It provides an anonymous web browser that prevents somebody watching your Internet connection (from learning what sites you visit) and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location
  3. Once installed, open the Tor Browser to open a secure connection. Once the connection to the Tor network is in place you may visit this page and send us a message through the form below.

Following these steps, messages, photos or files transmitted to Open Council via this tool are untraceable. Note transmissions through this anonymous tip page are one-way, meaning we cannot ‘reply’ to you to follow up or answer questions.

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    Email

    Although email is the easiest way to reach us, it’s not private. Your email provider (and ours) will have a record of your communication with us, including the contents. Think of an email like a postcard. If you’re okay with that, we welcome tips at tips@opencouncil.ca.

    If you want to reach us by email and don’t have a suitable email address, Protonmail is a good free email provider that you can use. However, it won’t make you anonymous.

    PGP

    A more secure way to send email is to encrypt the contents using PGP. This doesn’t disguise the fact that you are sending an email to us, so it’s not fully anonymous.

    It’s also complicated to set up, even for technical people. We suggest using one of the contact methods below. If you want to use PGP, here are guides for WindowsMac and Linux. If you use Gmail, PGP can be easily added using Mailvelope. Learn more about PGP encryption here.

    Send your PGP-encrypted email to tips@opencouncil.ca.

    Click here for our public key

    Signal

    Signal is a free, secure messaging app on iOS and Android. It uses end-to-end encryption and does not store user data, so the contents and recipient of your message are kept secret—even from Signal itself.

    To be extra safe, don’t save our number in your phone’s contact list, just type it into Signal directly when you want to message us. Consider using a secondary phone number to reach us if you don’t want your message to be associated with your personal number. Here’s a guide on using Signal with a secondary number. And here’s one on how to make your use of Signal as secure as possible.

    Contact us on Signal with this number: +1-416-668-3791.

    Tips to maximize anonymity

    The contact methods above come with different benefits and tradeoffs. To maximize anonymity, consider taking these extra steps:

    • Don’t contact us from a work device or using work internet connection, even on your personal phone.
    • Don’t look up opencouncil.ca on your work computer or sign up to our newsletter with a work email.
    • Don’t contact us on social media or engage with our posts.
    • Consider the consequences of being traced to us via your personal email, phone number or social media accounts. Consider using throwaway accounts to reach us.
    • If you have access to sensitive documents at work, can a leak be traced back to you? Would printing, downloading or transferring a file be logged? You may need to get creative. For example, Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, took pictures of thousands of pages of internal reports on her computer screen.
    • Clean up traces of your whistleblowing activities, even on personal devices. Delete browsing histories, browser caches, and Signal/WhatsApp/SMS messages.
    • Better yet, browse using incognito mode while using a VPN or an anonymous browser like Tor to ensure you’re not accidentally logged into other accounts and that your IP address isn’t logged.
    • Don’t tell anyone else that you’re leaking sensitive information to the press. Even if you trust that person, it’s impossible to know when something might slip.
    • If your risks are especially high, consider using a public wifi, such as those in cafes, libraries, or airports, to learn about tools like TailsOS and Tor Browser. TailsOS is an operating system that runs off a DVD or USB key and leaves no digital trace. You can use it to create a new Protonmail account to communicate with us.

    What we look for in tips

    We read every tip you send, but we have to make choices about which ones we explore. To help us understand why your tip could be a story, please keep in mind:

    • Tell us why your story is an accountability story. Who is being harmed? What, exactly, is happening? How would we follow up?
    • Our stories are generally about systemic, not individual, harm. If you think your story is part of a pattern, help us understand the larger context.
    • Include any evidence you have. That includes text messages, emails, documents, receipts, photos, reports and more.
    • If something is time sensitive, please note that in your subject line or introductory text.
    • Please be as specific and concise as you can.