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Long IslandColumnists

No foolproof way to plug information leaks

Feel free to send me stuff anonymously, the more scurrilous the better.

Even now. Especially now.

I have to mention this -- that my mailbox and my inbox are open for business -- given all the recent uproar over the way that federal prosecutors have been poking around in private communications of news reporters. The Associated Press and Fox News correspondent James Rosen have both been targeted by prosecutors trying to catch government leakers.

Just to be clear: I have a strong position on leaks. I am for them -- now, forever and always. Without leaks, we'd have to fill the paper with a bunch of boring press releases -- and really, how much fun would that be?

Barack Obama spoke up nicely on Friday for a federal shield law, which would restrict, though not stop, these government fishing expeditions. But here, as in so many parts of life, the better answer may lie in technology -- not the law.

The New Yorker magazine is now carrying on the work of pioneering hacker Aaron Swartz, who was facing 35 years in prison in a computer-crimes prosecution before he killed himself in January. Swartz's online Strongbox is one way -- there are others -- of delivering juicy documents in near-certain confidence.

So don't lose heart -- or nerve.

There is still the U.S. mail and the Gmail account set up at FedEx Office and the old-fashioned manila envelope over the newsroom transom. But I should probably warn you, no matter which delivery method you choose: someone could be watching, whether you know it or not.


1. Sleazy gossip

2. Unconfirmed rumor

3. Clear vendetta

4. Raw intelligence

5. Yes, but is it interesting, provocative, important or fun?

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