Emma Best

is creating free access to government files and leaked data

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About Emma Best

I'm a journalist, activist and researcher working to get government information released and freely available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act, declassification reviews, and archival work. Although completely legal, my FOIA work is so extensive that the FBI considers me among the "vexsome" FOIA users and appears to have considered investigating me over it.

I'm also one of the founders of Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), a transparency collective dedicated to making leaked and hacked information available. We currently host several terabytes of data, including the infamous of the CBP contractor Perceptics, as well as hundreds of thousands of emails from Russian extremists, oligarchs and other persons of interest. We're currently processing #29 Leaks, which will provide an unprecedented look at the inner workings of shell companies and how they're used for everything from international fraud to avoiding paying child support. At this point, virtually all of DDoSecrets' server costs, which are currently several hundred dollars a month, come out of my pocket.

Since 2015, I've published millions of government documents (well over 10% of the text items on the Internet Archive). I've also analyzed these documents, discussing things from the earliest known instances of Russian attempts to influence elections. My work appearing without paywalls in MuckRock, Gizmodo, Property of the People, The OutlineMotherboard and Unicorn Riot and cited by outlets like BuzzFeed, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, The Hill, Politico and Axios

The number of government documents that I've helped make freely available rivals or exceeds that of top mainstream outlets, even those like WikiLeaks. For instance, until recently, CIA's declassified database could only be accessed by using one of four computers, all of them just outside of Washington D.C. Now they're online for anyone to search or download in their entirety at the Internet Archive.

While I analyze and write about these documents (over 200 articles on them), I consider publishing them to be more important because it enables and empowers an entire generation of journalists, researchers and students of history. 

In addition to the ~1,000,000 CIA documents from CREST now available for download from the Internet Archive, some of the notable uploads include:

I've also launched several projects, including: 

  • Hacking History: A look at government investigations of hackers and their works.
  • The Reagan's Wrongs Project, looking at Iran-Contra, Debategate, the Inslaw scandal and more.
  • The Scientology is Fair Game project: A look at Scientology, including their infiltration of government, attacks on private citizens and the deaths of people in their care. This project resulted in a successful FOIA lawsuit against the FBI.
  • The War on Oversight: A look at CIA's decades long effort to undermine the Government Accountability Office and to sidestep oversight.
  • Declassifying CIA's Internal Histories: A project to release and collect as many of CIA's internal histories as possible, many of which rely on still classified documents and interviews not available to the public.

I hope you'll help me change our understanding of history, because transparency has a tendency to lead to government reform.
$128.03 of $2,000 per month
This covers enough expenses to let me continue making the information freely available to those who need it most – the public.
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