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Ricochet Refresh

Anonymous, meta-data free secure messaging

Ricochet Refresh, is a metadataless messenger for PCs (Windows, macOS, Unix) that provides anonymity as well as security. By using Tor, it allows people at risk making public interest disclosures to communicate in chat sessions with anonymity to journalists, members of parliament, regulators protecting the environment, financial malfeasance investigators and others who have the power in society to act as corrective mechanisms to serious wrongdoing. This project will update Ricochet, reduce known security risks, and ensure continued compatibility with Tor's onion services protocol. The possibility of anonymous communication is important for everyone, but particularly vital for those who risk reprisal in their workplace or other institutions to be able to speak up. Through anonymity, Ricochet Refresh allows the focus to be on the disclosure, not on the source or whistleblower. Thus, the project provides a tool in support of evidence-based reporting in the public interest by creating a safe on-going channel for the journalist to conduct verification as the story develops.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

When you get up in the morning, and read a fine piece of investigative news about a financial scandal, you don' t really stop to think much about how news is produced and what the human cost of its production is. Every year, dozens of journalists around the world get killed, because of what they write and who they talk to. Even in democratic countries, people can run the risk of intimidation and retribution. If you happen to be a courageous journalist writing about corruption, gangs or some other social wrong, protecting your sources is more than a matter of principle - it can be a matter of life and death for all parties concerned.

Journalists and other vulnerable groups like civil society groups as well as minorities are starting to understand they need to forsake some of the comforts of modern connectivity, in order to avoid danger to their lives and the live of others. If they use commodity internet communication tools, they will likely put themselves at significant risk. This danger lies not just in leaking the content of what they write and what other people send to them, but more so in the ability to observe who interacts with whom, when, and where they are in the real world while they meet on the internet. if you want to be reachable across the internet, you have to constantly let the communication provider follow you wherever you go. With the help of AI and other technologies much can be derived from 'hidden data' you may not have been aware of until now. Next time you use the wifi in the public library while waiting for your informer, who knows who will be sitting behind you?

Ricochet Refresh is a revisit of metadata-free communication software that people like journalists and whistleblowers can use to communicate completely anonymously. Ricochet does not reveal users' IP addresses, encrypts all message content, does not require you to sign in somewhere (and leave personal data) and any contact data is stored only on your device, making tracking of your calls and your contacts practically impossible. To do this, Ricochet uses the Tor anonymity network, which is bound for an upgrade that will make Ricochet not work as it wants to anymore. Ricochet Refresh updates the messaging software to keep it compatible with Tor and plans to implement a smartphone and document transfer feature requested by journalists and activists that use the safe communication solution. Through this project journalists, activists and whistleblowers can continue to disclose information safely and freely and keep the public informed.

Run by Blueprint for Free Speech

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This project was funded through the NGI0 PET Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825310.