Jacob Appelbaum (born 1 April 1983) is an American independent journalist, computer security researcher, artist, and hacker. He has been employed by the University of Washington, and was a core member of the Tor project, a free software network designed to provide online anonymity. Appelbaum is also known for representing WikiLeaks. He has displayed his art in a number of institutions across the world and has collaborated with artists such as Laura Poitras, Trevor Paglen, and Ai Weiwei. His journalistic work has been published in Der Spiegel and elsewhere. Appelbaum has repeatedly been targeted by U.S. law enforcement agencies, who obtained a court order for his Twitter account data, detained him at the U.S. border after trips abroad, and seized his laptop and several mobile phones.
Under the handle “ioerror”, Appelbaum was an active member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective from 2008 to 2016. He was the co-founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge with Mitch Altman. With several others, he co-founded the Seattle Privacy Coalition, an advocacy group. He worked for Kink.com and Greenpeace, and volunteered for the Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network.
The Tor Project and several other organizations ended their association with Appelbaum in June 2016 following several allegations of sexual abuse. Appelbaum has denied the allegations. Various activists and others have publicly supported Appelbaum, voicing concerns about due process, trial by social media, and questioning the reliability of the claims. The affair has had repercussions in the on-line privacy advocacy world. While U.S. news media have treated the allegations as credible, reporting in Germany, where Appelbaum lives, has been sharply critical. No legal action has been taken by either Appelbaum or any accuser.