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Snowden calls on world's hackers to create NSA-thwarting technologies

Urges creation of anti-tracking technologies to encrypt traffic online
Mon Jul 21 2014, 14:57
Edward Snowden NSA Prism whistleblower

SURVEILLANCE WHISTLEBLOWER Edward Snowden has urged hackers across the globe to develop easy to use technologies that can defeat illegal government surveillance.

Addressing his supporters via a Google Hangout at the Hackers on Planet Earth Conference (HOPE) in New York, Snowden repeated a call he's made before for the technology industry to embed more security and privacy-protecting technology into our everyday lives via the devices we use.

During his presentation, he asked the audience to create anti-tracking technologies that will encrypt messages and allow people to communicate anonymously online to avoid any potential snooping.

"You in this room, right now have both the means and the capability to improve the future by encoding our rights into programs and protocols by which we rely every day," he said via a video link from Moscow, where Snowden was granted asylum in June 2013 in the wake of revelations he made about the activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA).

"This is what a lot of my future work is going to be involved in."

During his speech, Snowden said that he intends to devote much of his time to promoting the counter-surveillance technologies, which he said must be easy to use so they can be used on a mass level.

He did not say anything about his extended stay in Russia. He has applied for an extension of his temporary visa in Russia, as he believes that returning to the US and receiving fair treatment from the authorities might not be possible.

It also emerged in The Guardian's interview with Snowden last week that "incredibly weak" oversight of US surveillance programs means that military personnel can obtain sexually explicit photos of people under surveillance. What's more, young NSA employees occasionally get hold of nude photos while searching through personal data and the photos can get passed around the office.

"In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work, for example an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising situation, but they're extremely attractive," said Snowden.

"So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and they show a co-worker. And their co-worker says: 'Oh, hey, that's great. Send that to Bill down the way,'" he said.

Last week, Snowden slammed Dropbox as "hostile to privacy", warning users to move to services with "zero knowledge", that is, no way of decrypting data stored with them.

Citing the relatively little known Spideroak as an example, Snowden explained, "Spideroak has structured their system in such a way you can store all of your information on them with the same sort of features that Dropbox does, but they literally had have no access to the content.

"So while they can be compelled to turn it over, the law enforcement agencies still have to go to a judge and get a warrant to actually get your encryption key from you." µ


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