Research Outline

Dead Man's Switch Examples


To provide additional information on when and how dead man's switches have been used for journalism, media, and/or activism, and information on the various systems or methods for these

Early Findings

Julian Assange released multiple “insurance files” to serve as a dead man’s switch in case he died. These involved downloaders getting a primary encryption code, and then needing another key to unlock the file, which would be released upon Assange’s death.

WikiLeaks also had dead man’s switches as related to its existence- if anything happened to WikiLeaks, the second code would be released, similar to the one related to Assange’s safety.

These files were tweeted by WikiLeaks, and labeled as ‘insurance’.

There was also discussion that when celebrity Isaac Kappy died, he had a dead man’s switch, however he outted several celebrities as having involvement with sex crimes prior to his death, and no new information came to light following his death.

However, the celebrity did tell a friend that if he met an untimely demise, he had something in action to release a series of events he didn’t describe specifically.

Dead Man’s Switches are being used in Pennsylvania prisons, which are less related to actual death and more to releasing a distress signal if a guard is incapacitated.

One website offers a Dead Man’s switch in case of Rapture. The site called, “You've Been Left Behind” offers a service where if subscribers are ‘raptured’ and do not answer notifications, messages left for friends and ‘non-raptured’ loved ones will be delivered.

An additional Dead Man’s Switch is Kill Cord, an P2P based application.

Platform Kimono also offers similar features, but is less of a dead man’s switch and more of a time capsule that is activated upon passing.

Other apps in addition to those listed in the previous report include WeCroak, iWish, Afternote, and BeRemembered, all which trigger messages upon a user’s death or fail to respond to notifications for an assigned period of time.

Other amateur DIY ideas include using a triggered time switch, Twillio API, and a scheme using GPG, a command line tool with features for cryptographics and integration with other applications.