Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
On Thursday, the super PAC, Correct the Record, launched Trump Leaks, which seeks sources who can provide legitimate information that makes the Republican presidential nominee look bad, including “unreported video or audio of Donald Trump so voters can have access to the Donald Trump who existed before running for president and before his recent affinity for teleprompters.”
While the project is being billed as a “WikiLeaks-style” effort, its tactics bare more similarities to those employed by tabloid publications—think TMZ or the New York Post—that pay sources in exchange for scoops. Also unlike WikiLeaks, Trump Leaks lacks key technological safeguards that keep sources' identities safe.
Anyone who thinks they may have something damning on Trump can detail their information—along with their name, email address, and phone number—through an online form on the Correct the Record website. But the website does not have HTTPS enabled, meaning data submitted through the online form is unencrypted and could be intercepted by digital eavesdroppers.One of the primary reasons WikiLeaks has remained an attractive outlet for the leaking of private documents—notably the release of tens of thousands of emails and other files stolen from the Democratic National Committee—is its use of encryption and other means that keep the identities of its sources secret—including from WikiLeaks itself.
Trump Leaks provides no such privacy safeguards, at least at the initial stage when potential sources provide their personal information and explain what they may have to leak.
Correct the Record did not immediately respond to our request for details about its privacy protections.
Leaked records have become a prominent force in the 2016 election. This week, a hacker operating under the moniker Guccifer 2.0—whom the FBI and American intelligence agencies reportedly believe is a front for Russian intelligence—leaked more documents from the DNC that include details of the committee's finances, Democratic donors, and technical information about its system.
In yet another leak, the website DCLeaks.com published emails stolen from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in which the retired four-star general criticizes Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Correct the Record itself has become a controversial player in the election as well. In April, the super PAC launched its “Barrier Breakers” initiative, a $1 million “task force” that would “push back” against internet commenters who “spread lies and misleading narratives about Secretary Hillary Clinton.”