Snowden's Project To Make Smartphones Untrackable

    NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and hardware hacker Andrew Huang are currently developing a way to prevent unwanted location tracking of smartphones. This would be especially useful to journalists and activists who are working in hostile environments; Syrian forces, for example, are reported to have orders to kill any journalist that enters the country. To be successfully tracked whilst reporting in the war-torn country puts any journalist in grave danger.

    According to Snowden, even smartphones in airplane mode – which supposedly turns off all transmission signals from the device – can be tricked. Snowden and Huang explain in a blog post: “Malware packages, peddled by hackers at a price accessible by private individuals, can activate radios without any indication from the user interface.” It is this problem they are trying to fix; their ultimate goal is to develop a product that will alert users in the event of a hack.

    This device, called an ‘introspection engine’, will be a small computer that can be attached to a smartphone while masquerading as a large battery. It will have its own screen and will operate separately from the phone, allowing it to remain honest even if the phone itself is compromised. Snowden and Huang plan to equip it with an audible alarm and a kill switch to be used in the case of unwanted location tracking.

    Snowden and Huang hope to have a prototype within the next year. Read the full story from the Intercept’s Micah Lee here.