Edward Snowden's Making iPhone Cases Now

By Gary Cutlack on at

A concept mobile phone case that alerts the user to when its signals are transmitting data that could potentially be monitored by our authoritarian leaders has been revealed, with celebrity data sharer Edward 'USB Stick Fingers' Snowden taking part of the credit for its inception.

Snowden and the device's co-designer Andrew Huang refer to it and its systems as an "introspection engine," one that has the ability to stop journalists and anyone else who'd prefer to do what they do in secret from being "betrayed by their tools."

It's a simple enough idea; when the phone's transmitting data, a second embedded display on the case of the phone will say this is happening, making it possible to throw the phone in the sea should you be deep in enemy territory on a mission to a downmarket discount supermarket you'd rather didn't pop up in your mapping history.

The documentation explains that features like airplane mode -- which we think might protect us -- is in fact a "soft switch" that could easily be tricked, plus there's presumably some sort of system lag in actually activating it and having your phone display its status to the network masts.

Snowden explained the thought processes behind the device in layman's terms, saying: "If you have a phone in your pocket that’s turned on, a long-lived record of your movements has been created. As a result of the way the cell network functions your device is constantly shouting into the air by means of radio signals a unique identity that validates you to the phone company," warning that third-parties can potentially grab this data too, and before you know it North Korea's got a file on you and is using your endless coffee shop trips as an example of Western decadence. [Guardian]

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