In many leak cases, the metadata of a journalist’s communications—where you’re located, who you’re talking to, when you’re talking to them, and how often—can lead to trouble just as much as the actual content of your conversations.
Even if a government serves a court order directly to a news organization to compel the disclosure of information, SecureDrop logs much less information than email providers or phone companies do.
The source can only log into SecureDrop through the Tor Browser, which masks the source’s IP address to begin with, so there is no indication who the source is (unless they disclose it) and where they are sending information from. The Tor IP address, the computer, and the browser type that the source is using is not logged either.
For each source, only the time and date of each submission is logged on the server. When a source sends a new message, the time and date of the last message is overwritten. This means that there won’t be a trail of metadata showing exactly when the source and journalist were talking.
In addition, sources cannot create a custom username that could reveal information about them. Instead, SecureDrop automatically generates two random codenames, one to show to the source and another to the journalists using the system.