IFLScience recently reported that Edward Snowden is helping to develop plans for a smartphone case that could stop people becoming victims of digital surveillance.
In an online paper called "Against The Law: Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance," Snowden and Andrew "Bunnie" Huang outline plans to create a smartphone case able to display a notification and spark an alarm when the phone's cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other radio connections are sending and receiving data. It will also feature a "kill switch" that can forcibly disconnect power to the phone if a signal is seen to be transmitting information without the user's permission or knowledge. The case also obscures the rear camera lens to prevent the recording of videos.
The design is said to be able to work for any type of smartphone, although their paper was based on an iPhone 6. They have also made the plans for the device to be "open source" so anyone can create it.
Snowden and Bunnie concluded the paper by saying if their prototypes are a success they will look to the Freedom of the Press Foundation potentially to fund production of them.
The device is primarily intended to protect journalists, particularly those reporting from war zones or corresponding under regimes with strict censorship. For the many people working and living in these high-risk situations, this could be life-saving. In 2012, Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochli were killed after Syrian government forces were allegedly able to trace their position from their phones.
Speaking to WIRED, Snowden said that he has not carried a smartphone for three years, saying "wireless devices are kind of like kryptonite to me."
Love that reference – and am ready to fall in love with a phone case that doesn't exist yet!
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Digital Forensics/Information Security/Information Technology