With journalism proven to be a dangerous profession in many African countries, media outlets and NGOs felt the need to take a separate approach to protecting whistleblowers and political dissidents.
That is how the idea behind afriLEAKS was initially developed.
As the African version of WikiLeaks, afriLEAKS is also a whistleblower mailbox for exposing illegal and unethical activity.
One thing, however, caught the attention of the public ever since the service was established in 2015.
Namely, afriLEAKS can be accessed through the dark web and allows you to share your documents confidentially with media outlets via their .onion website, attainable only through the Tor Browser.
This provides protection for people that want to submit records with discretion and anonymity.
Unlike WikiLeaks, which leaks the information directly to the public, the African service acts as a middle-man and transfers this information to media outlets and NGOs instead.
Whistleblowers are typically exposed to danger due to the nature of the information that they are giving away to the public, from losing their jobs to more severe threats including losing their freedom.
With the anonymous distribution through the dark web, the sender is sufficiently protected and does not run the risk of a third party discovering the submission of files.
Dark Web as a Shelter to Whistleblowers
Despite its reputation as a hub for criminals, the dark web can be used for anonymity in ethical causes as well.
That is exactly what afriLEAKS is doing. They are providing a safe place for whistleblowers, thanks to the technology behind the Tor Browser, the most used tool to access the dark web and .onion websites.
Commonly used browsers such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox will quickly reveal the whistleblower’s location. They also track and log users’ activity.
The Tor Browser, on the other hand, is a specially designed software that enables anonymous web browsing by routing your internet traffic through different, randomly picked IP addresses on Tor servers located all over the world.
This makes it nearly impossible for someone to track down your real location if you’re uploading files on afriLEAKS through their dark web .onion domain.
An “observer” such as your internet service provider will know that you are using Tor, but they will not be able to see which websites you are visiting and your activity there.
You can protect your privacy completely by installing a VPN and using it together with the Tor Browser.
This combination of anonymity tools disables your internet service provider from knowing what you’re doing.
Media Presence on the Dark Web
In afriLEAKS’ case, 14 media organizations from several African countries have joined forces to create the dark web mailbox in which people can send their information.
The sender is supposed to indicate which of the media participants should obtain the leaked data.
The project is coordinated by the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting.
Sending out the Information in a Secured Way
Before submitting a leaked document to the inbox of afriLEAKs’ site on the surface web, afrileaks.org, the sender will receive a warning about the current browser and a link to use the service on the dark web.
To do so, the person needs to download the Tor Browser and only proceed from there. As noted above, for extra security, users should also use a VPN on top of the Tor Browser.
afriLEAKS’ .onion site can be accessed here: wcnueib4qrsm544n.onion.
After uploading the document(s), the sender receives a 16-digit number that can be used later to see whether the editor has replied or not.
All of the leaked information from the whistleblowers go through secure connections and arrive at the editor’s inbox.
This protects sources from unnecessary and potentially dangerous exposure, and makes monitoring practically impossible.