Jacob Appelbaum (born 1 April 1983) is an American independent journalist, computer security researcher, artist, and hacker. He studies at the Eindhoven University of Technology, and was formerly 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.Many of these organizations, as well as his employer Tor, ended their association with Appelbaum in June 2016 following allegations of sexual abuse. Appelbaum has denied the allegations. Various activists and others publicly supported Appelbaum, voicing concerns about due process, trial by social media, and questioning the reliability of the claims, while others credit the incident with changing the information security community's attitude towards sheltering known abusers. The affair has had repercussions in the online privacy advocacy world. While U.S. news media treated the allegations as credible, reporting in Germany, where Appelbaum lives, was sharply critical.