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10 Jan, 2018 18:32

Whistleblowing tool ‘SecureDrop’ co-creator James Dolan dead at 36

Whistleblowing tool ‘SecureDrop’ co-creator James Dolan dead at 36

Former marine, James Dolan, who along with colleague Aaron Swartz created a secure system for communication between journalists and sources in possession of sensitive information or documents, has died. He was 36.

The circumstances of Dolan’s death are not yet known, but former colleagues speculate he may have committed suicide.

“We don’t know why James took his own life; we do know, however, he long suffered from PTSD from his time serving in the Marines during the Iraq War. It was an experience that affected him in multiple ways,” wrote Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of Press Foundation, on Tuesday. Dolan worked for the foundation until 2015.

“He often cited the Iraq War as his inspiration for wanting to help journalists and whistleblowers; it made him realize governments needed to be much more transparent and accountable.”

In 2012, James worked with Swartz and journalist Kevin Poulsen to build the original prototype of SecureDrop, the open source whistleblower submission system.

The first iteration, StrongBox, was used by the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Associated Press, allowing secure communications between journalists and sources in possession of sensitive information and documents. Those same journalists now rely on the latest version SecureDrop.

Dolan joined the Freedom of the Press Foundation to maintain SecureDrop after co-creator Swartz committed suicide as the US government was attempting to prosecute him for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in relation to allegedly copying academic articles from JSTOR.

James left FPF in August 2015, and was working on the security team at Classy, a crowdfunding site for non-profit organizations located in San Diego.

Details of memorial services have not yet been announced.