Deadswitch – A Revolutionary Response to the Global Press Freedom Crisis


As we continue to traverse an era of unprecedented geopolitical uncertainty, one of the cornerstones of democracy, press freedom, finds itself in a precarious position. The chilling statistics presented in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index tell a bleak story: in just the span of a year, 67 journalists were murdered and another 363 were imprisoned across the world. In response to this intensifying climate of intimidation and violence against those who seek to share the truth, a groundbreaking solution has emerged from the world of digital technology – Deadswitch.

Deadswitch is a pioneering online service, embodying the concept of a digital ‘dead man’s switch’. The service allows users to encrypt and upload documents and data of public interest to the platform, while simultaneously defining a predetermined list of journalists who will receive this data in the unfortunate circumstance that the user becomes unable to disseminate it themselves. This innovative process works to provide a formidable defence against the all-too-common attempts by oppressive state actors to suppress critical information.

The harrowing tales of high-profile individuals such as Jamal Khashoggi, who was gruesomely assassinated, and Julian Assange, who remains in arbitrary detention, exemplify the pressing need for solutions like Deadswitch. Their plight illustrates the perilous landscape that journalists often find themselves navigating in their noble quest to uncover and disseminate the truth. In a world where the scales of power are increasingly tipped in favor of authoritarian state entities, many journalists are driven to adopt self-censorship to avert potential reprisals.

Deadswitch, by harnessing the power of open-source cryptography, seeks to overthrow this oppressive dynamic. The service works to empower those individuals who risk their lives to inform the public, by providing a secure file-sharing utility, one impervious to conventional methods of censorship or intimidation.

Jacob Riggs, the founder and a renowned security expert, has articulated that Deadswitch operates under a principle he refers to as ‘deterrence by disclosure’. According to this model, any state actor aiming to incapacitate a Deadswitch user would inadvertently trigger the release of the very information they sought to suppress. This paradoxical outcome effectively discourages state actors from intervention, as any attempt to prevent exposure would only result in amplifying its reach and impact.

This concept mirrors the ‘Streisand effect’, a phenomenon which stipulates that attempts to censor or suppress information only serve to draw greater attention to it and widen its distribution. By strategically utilising this principle, Deadswitch boosts the efficacy of press operations and guarantees that the truth really can remain untouchable.

In the ever-evolving struggle for press freedom, Deadswitch presents itself as an indispensable tool, providing a level of protection for journalists and whistleblowers around the world that is unparalleled in history. Its existence stands as a testament to the unyielding power of truth in the face of escalating adversity. By leveraging its innovative model of digital deterrence, Deadswitch is poised to counter the alarming rise in attacks on journalists, and serves to reinforce the crucial idea that the pursuit of truth, no matter how fearless, should not necessitate a compromise on one’s personal safety.

By positioning itself firmly against the oppressive powers that threaten everyone’s right-to-know, it stands to serve as a reminder to all that the sanctity of a free press must be defended at all costs.

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