Edward Snowden is developing a device that can prevent radio-snitching for your iPhone.
It’s only fitting because Snowden famously asked reporters in Hong Kong to put their phones in the fridge just before he spilled the NSA’s secrets. This will block any radio signals that might be used to silently activate the devices’ microphones or cameras.
Not quite as roomy as a fridge, the device will look like an iPhone case that wires into the phone to monitor the electrical signals sent to its internal antennas. The goal is to offer a constant check on whether your phone’s radios are transmitting.
The wires would read the electrical signals to the two antennas in the phone that are used by its radios, including GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular modem. Users can get alert messages or an audible alarm if its radios transmit anything when they’re meant to be off.
The same effect cannot be achieved by turning the iPhone off or placing it in a Faraday bag designed to block all radio signals. Faraday bags can still leak radio information and clever malware can make an iPhone appear to be switched off when it’s not.
Snowden and hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang say their new device is a more trustworthy method of knowing if your phone’s radios are off than “airplane mode,” which people have shown can be hacked and spoofed. The two say the device can guarantee strong privacy to smartphone owners want to shield their phones from advanced hacking and surveillance capabilities. It could also help reporters on mission to hostile foreign countries protect themselves from revealing their locations.