IQSS SecureDrop

What is SecureDrop?

Harvard University’s SecureDrop is a secure way for people to share messages, data, and other materials with Harvard’s scholarly researchers. It offers considerably greater security and anonymity than conventional approaches.

Many major news organizations have a SecureDrop server, usually for whistleblower submissions. Ours is the first with a scholarly research mission set up by a university. SecureDrop was originally created by (the late) Aaron Swartz while he was a research fellow at Harvard and is now maintained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. We have extended SecureDrop, along with the Foundation, to work at universities.

How do I use it?

SecureDrop relies on Tor, an browser-type application designed to encrypt your communications and obscure your computer’s IP address.

To use SecureDrop:

Keep the codename you are provided safe and secure. We will not know your codename; do not share it with anyone. If you forget your codename, we will not be able to contact you.

If the data you wish to share is more than 500mb, send it in parts each less than 500mb, or compress it using PeaZip, an open source compression software available at Your computer will also have a log of you having used this software which you may wish to delete.

You can also reach us securely and anonymously through SecureDrop. (Alternatively, you may use our direct encrypted email account, but be aware that metadata about our exchange may be created by your email server.)

What steps are taken to protect my privacy and anonymity?

Nearly all digital communications can leave a trail. The Harvard University SecureDrop is designed to minimize these digital trails using best practices, such as:

However, no system is 100 percent secure, and even with these measures, there might be a risk of someone discovering who you are or what you are sending. In addition to using SecureDrop, we recommend that you:

What is IQSS's mission? How will we use data shared with us?

The Institute for Quantitative Social Science is Harvard University's largest social science research center. Its mission is to develop the science of solving the greatest problems that affect human societies. Consistent with that mission, we are interested in receiving data covering all aspects of people, societies, governments, cultures and other subjects, but do not pay for data and do not want you to secure data illegally on our behalf.

Privacy Statement

The Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University will work diligently to protect the identities of sources and keep the information they give us confidential. Unlike media organizations, as university researchers, we are also legally prohibited from revealing the identities of most research subjects. All systems contain risks, including SecureDrop; use of the system is on an "as is" basis -- at your own risk.

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