I’m a hacker-journalist, working at ProPublica. I spend most of my time working on investigative journalism — creating news applications, performing data analyses, and reporting on a variety of topics including healthcare data breaches, wasteful military spending, and cybersecurity. I also do a bit of devops, managing parts of our web app infrastructure, migrating our site to encrypted HTTPS-only, and providing a Tor hidden service to our readers. Before joining ProPublica full-time, I was a Knight-Mozilla OpenNews Fellow.
I’m very interested in cybersecurity, online privacy, data collection, and anonymity: in addition to the aforementioned ProPublica Tor hidden service, I’m also the creator of Onion Browser, an open-source, privacy-enhancing web browser for iOS which uses the Tor network. I frequently speak at conferences and conduct workshops to teach people how to protect themselves online.
I also do a lot of work in the civic hacking space, especially around open data and open government issues. I'm a core developer of several open-source tools that help citizens use public data and help governments work more transparently. Tabula, received a grant from the Knight Foundation and was a finalist for the 2014 Online News Association Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism. CivOmega (as in, "Wolfram Alpha for civic data") received a grant from the Sunlight Foundation.
In addition to investigative reporting and developing tools for readers and journalists alike, I like to share practical knowldege with others, by open-sourcing work and training others. I'm an adjunct instructor at the New York University Studio 20 program, teaching a mix of digital skills to journalism graduate students. And I often participate in conference panels, talks, and workshops, teaching other professionals about threat modeling and encryption tools to keep their work safe, and about how to use various data analysis tools in their journalism work.
A small selection of projects and speaking engagements are listed below.
You can find a thorough list of reporting and news apps at ProPublica.
Many more open-source projects and snippets are at GitHub.
I don't use LinkedIn.
RECRUITERS & MARKETERS: click here.
- You can encrypt your e-mails by using PGP. 0x6E0E9923 is my PGP key. Fingerprint:
4034 E60A A782 7C5D F21A 89AA A993 E715 6E0E 9923. Verification information here & at Keybase & cross-referenceable in a ton of other places.
- You can also use this page to create an encrypted message, if you don't have PGP. Note that this doesn’t give me a way to reply to you with encryption.
ricochet:4cyjyokl4emrqcvn. Ricochet is a deskop messaging app featuring strong encryption and network anonymity using Tor; it’s my preferred method for secure instant messaging.
Other: I'm also usually available on Signal, XMPP/Jabber/OTR, Slack, a couple of IRC networks, and things like Jitsi, Skype, Google Hangout, etc. Just reach out and let me know what you’d prefer.
- Onion Browser
A privacy-enhancing web browser for iOS, using Tor.
- Official site, introductory blog post, GitHub repo, App Store link
- Coverage: The New York Times, Salon, TechCrunch, Boing Boing, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, The Guardian, MSNBC GadgetBox, WCBS New York City
- #1 Paid iPhone Utility app, #2 Paid iPad Utility app, #45 Overall Paid iPhone app, and #37 Overall Paid iPad app in April 2012.
A tool that liberates data tables from PDF files.
ElectionLand is a project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercisting their right to vote during the 2016 United States election. A collaborative effort between ProPublica, the Google News Lab, WNYC, FirstDraft, the USA Today Network, and other news organizations and journalism schools.
- ProPublica: Dollars for Docs
A database and reporting series detailing how the pharmaceutical industry provides benefits and payments to doctors. John Oliver later covered the topic on Last Week Tonight.
- ProPublica: HIPAA Helper
A database of healthcare privacy breaches, aggregating reports from the U.S. HHS Office for Civil Rights, the California Department of Public Health, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Related series.
- ProPublica: Money as a Weapons System
A hybrid news story and interactive database, highlighting the many ways $2 billion was spent by the U.S. miltiary to "win hearts and minds" in Afghanistan. Part of a larger series on U.S. military spending.
- ProPublica: “Zombie Cookie: The Tracking Cookie That You Can’t Kill”
Reported on an ad network’s creation a persistent, undeletable cookie by taking advantage of a Verizon HTTP tracking header. The ad network later halted the use of this header and Verizon eventually offered users a way to opt out of the header.
A search engine that answers questions about public data.
A U.S. Open Data Institute project, consisting of a web tool that can validate the authenticity of government data files, per the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act.
- U.S. ODI announcement: Here’s How We Saved State-Level Open Legal Data
- NYPL Time Traveller
A Foursquare app that added nearby historical photos to checkins in and around New York City.
- ProPublica: Nonprofit Explorer
A searchable database of nonprofit financial data.
- The Spokesman-Review
Django-based CMS and news applications powering a regional newspaper website.
An open-source geocoder client for Python; I was the primary maintainer of GeoPy between 2010 and 2013.
A “static site” generator for Django; allows conversion of normal Django projects to static "baked out" paradigm. Powers this blog.
Many, many other projects and gists can be found on GitHub. Reporting projects and stories can be found on my ProPublica staff page.
Talks, Panels, Sessions, Workshops
Events I've spoken at, taught at, or otherwise participated in:
- Mozilla Festival 2016
- Media Party Africa 2016
- Lecture: Real-world digital security for journalists
- Workshop: CryptoParty: a hands-on encryption and security workshop
- SRCCON 2016
- 2016 IRE Conference
- 2016 NICAR Conference
- 2016 Internet Freedom Festival
- Boston College Law School, Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good:
Boot Camp for Journalists
- Session: Accessing Nonprofit Data through ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer
- Mozilla Festival 2015
- Session: Disassembling the world’s worst data wrapper: PDFs [notes]
- SRCCON 2015
- 2015 Committe to Protect Journalists “Securing the Newsroom” Tech Summit
- 2015 Al Jazeera Forum
- Panel: The Struggle for Digital Freedom
- 2015 NICAR Conference
- Session: Data Alchemy: Turning Lead Into Data
- Session: Defense against the dark arts: Security for you and your sources
- Session: Amazon Cloud Basics
- Workshop: NICAR CryptoParty
- 2015 Circumvention Tech Festival
- CryptoParty NYC: "CryptoParty for Journalists"
- Freedom of the Press Foundation & RCFP #EncryptNews Conference
- Hands-on workshop: OTR instant messaging encryption
- Mozilla Festival 2014
- Session: Data Alchemy: Turning lead into data
- Session: Practical Threat Modeling for Journalists
- Temple University, Center for Public Interest Journalism: Digital Security Workshop [slides]
- Online News Association "dCamp: Digital Security"
- 2014 Asian American Journalists Association Convention
- 2014 IRE Conference
- Panel: Docs! Docs! Docs!
- Hands-on workshop: Liberating Data from PDFs
- 2014 NICAR Conference
- 2014 IRE New York Watchdog Workshop
- Talk: Cyber Security for Journalists [slides]
- NewsFoo 2013
- Mozilla Festival 2013
- Hacks/Hackers NYC Crypto Workshop
- Hands-on workshop: PGP e-mail encryption, OTR instant messaging encryption, and Tor Browser. [GitHub]
- Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires Media Party 2013
- Talk: Threat Modeling
- 2013 MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference
- 2013 IRE Conference
- Talk: Introducing Tabula: A PDF data extractor
- 2013 NICAR Conference
- Panel: Covert Reporting Using Technology to Cover Your Tracks