Edward Snowden created an app that turns smartphones into security systems aimed at thwarting spies

The Guardian Project
  • Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency contractor turned leaker, is working on a smartphone app.
  • The app, Haven, is intended to turn smartphones into mobile security systems.
  • Haven is available to try for free in open beta.

Edward Snowden is best known for revealing the spy programs of the US’s National Security Agency, but his next project is intended to make citizens feel more secure.

It’s an app, called Haven, that’s designed to turn Android phones into all-in-one anti-spy systems.

“Imagine if you had a guard dog you could take with you to any hotel room and leave it in your room when you’re not there,”Snowden told Wired in an interview published Friday. “And it’s actually smart, and it witnesses everything that happens and creates a record of it.”

The idea is simple: You install the app on a cheap “burner” phone – one that can be thrown away – and then set up the phone in a place you want to monitor.

Haven (app from Edward Snowden)The Guardian ProjectA presentation from The Guardian Project, which is working with Snowden on Haven, is intended to show the difference between Haven and other monitoring solutions.

Perhaps you’re in a hotel room in Hong Kong, worried that a world power is attempting to spy on your actions. What to do? Install Haven on an otherwise empty, inexpensive Android smartphone.

You can program it to start recording or taking photos if someone enters your room. Those recordings can then be sent securely to your personal phone, perhaps through an encrypted-communication tool like Signal.

As the image above demonstrates, Haven uses encrypted services like Signal and Tor that let users retain full control of the communication.

In so many words, the app is intended to turn a smartphone into a personal security system.

“We designed Haven as a tool for investigative journalists, human-rights defenders, and people at risk,” Snowden says in a video introducing the app.

He added: “Haven makes it harder to silence citizens – raids, searches, arrests – without getting caught in the act.”

Since the app is in open beta, you can test it for yourself – but beware that some things might not work perfectly, or at all.

And if you want to hear more about Haven from Snowden himself, check out the video:

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