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Edward Snowden Is Working on Phone Case That Will Alert You If You’re Being Spied On

Please call it "The Whistleblower." Please.

For the paranoid, there’s already some tech out there that will allow you to completely shut off your phone from the outside world and go off the grid, but you’re going to have to go back on eventually—otherwise why do you have a phone, you maniac? That’s why Edward Snowden is working on a phone case that will warn you if your phone is colluding with the enemy/the government/anyone.

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Like any good spy, a lot of the malware that steals data from phones—government-sponsored or otherwise—does so in a way that doesn’t attract attention to itself in order to keep stealing that data. That’s the problem Snowden’s aiming to fix, at least in part, with the new phone case he’s working on with Andrew Huang. In the mockup above, you can see the basic design of the case, which features a display that will alert you to any unauthorized activity going on over your phone’s wireless transmission methods when you’re trying to lay low in “airplane mode.”

Snowden himself told Wired that he hasn’t carried a smartphone since he had to flee the country after exposing the NSA’s methods, because he doesn’t want the U.S. government to be able to determine where he’s hiding in Russia. Wireless devices just aren’t trustworthy, but maybe this new case can fix that. It isn’t exactly aimed at the everyday person, though, as the technical writeup on the design specifically mentions reporters in dangerous areas or activists who might need to make sure they’re not being tracked—not to mention that its installation would necessitate a trained technician to do the job. It’s not as simple as snapping a bumper case onto your phone.

Currently, they’re working with an iPhone 6 to get the design right, but once they do, they’ll set about making it work for other models, as well. They wrote, “Over the coming year, we hope to prototype and verify the introspection engine’s abilities. As the project is run largely through volunteer efforts on a shoestring budget, it will proceed at a pace reflecting the practical limitations of donated time. If the prototype proves successful, the FPF may move to seek the necessary funding to develop and maintain a supply chain. This would enable the FPF to deploy modified iPhone 6 devices for field service among journalists in high-risk situations.”

As the person who fully opened our eyes to the extent we were being spied on, I’m glad that Snowden is also helping us do something about it. Ranting angrily on the Internet wasn’t making me feel any better, but this might help.

(via BBC, image via Edward Snowden/Andrew Huang)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>

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