Edward Snowden, a former United States central intelligence Agency employee and the Freedom of Press Foundation has built a free app which when installed on your portable Android device can turn your device into a surveillance system.
This free app is called the “Haven”.
What Inspired the building of the Haven app?
Edward Snowden was an employee of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a contractor with United States Government until he was alleged to have leaked classified information from the National Security Agency without permission. The information he leaked revealed governments engagement in numerous global surveillance program which is mostly run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance.
Having leaked that classified information, Edward Snowden was charged with violating the espionage act of 1917 and stealing of government property. As a result, he flew to Russia to seek Asylum.
It has been revealed that Snowden hasn’t been in possession of any mobile phone since 2013. He is said to be very careful about the kind of technology around him. He so much takes extraordinary precautions against surveillance he can even go to the extent of hanging pillows around himself and his computer while he types in a password.
Since his way of taking extraordinary precaution against surveillance isn’t one that will be convenient for most people, he took on the challenge of finding a much convenient way of helping people.
Snowden’s meeting with Moudeina
Snowden is said to have met a lawyer/legendary human rights advocate named Jacqueline Moudeina earlier this year and discussed on the app he is working on. He said the app will turn your device into a sort of motion system that will notify you of any intrusion or tampering. The app will also be able to tell you if any of your things have been moved or if there is an intrusion into your friend’s place. Snowden is said to narrate that crucial conversation in an interview with the verge.
“She got very serious and told me, ‘I need this. I need this now. There are so many people around us who need this.”
Snowden’s conversation with Moudeina pivoted his commitment to delivering an app that could not only protect the activists from unknown tampering of their device but also protect anyone with sensitive information on their devices.
When he worked with Bunnie Huang, Snowden became so familiar with the internals of smartphones. This left him thinking of how he can take advantage of the sensors and components of smartphones to help protect against unknown surveillance and invasion of privacy.
A security engineer named Micah Lee was said to have had the first flash of insight. Till date, developers who work on sensitive projects are so paranoid of keeping their laptops in sight due to fear of intrusion. Even If your hard disk is encrypted, a spiteful person with physical access to your device can still compromise your device and you might not be able to tell.
In view of helping protect people’s devices, Snowden and lee, who are members of the board of Freedom of the Press Foundation in partnership with Guardian Project, a group of app developers who are majorly into privacy and encrypted communications, created a free app called “Haven”.
What is Haven?
On Friday, the 22nd of December, the Freedom of Press Foundation announced the introduction of the app called Haven. This was through a short YouTube video which featured Edward Snowden.
‘Haven’, which is currently in its Beta version for the public, is an android app that takes advantage of your device sensors to help monitor and protect your personal space and possession without necessarily compromising your own privacy.
On Friday, the Guardian Project wrote on its website saying;
“we designed ‘Haven’ for Investigative Journalists, human right defenders, and people at risk of forced disappearance to create a new kind of herd immunity”.
How the Haven app works
The Haven app exploits the sensors on your Android device and turns it into a sound, motion, vibration and light detector so it can detect unwanted and unexpected intruders.
To appropriately and effectively use the Haven app, install the app on cheap burner Android device. Place the burner Android device in any place you want to secure. Let’s say you want to secure your Laptop, place the burner Android device on top of the laptop. The app will then activate the device’s microphone and camera. When there is an intrusion or someone messes with your stuff, it takes note of what is transpiring by taking photos, recording sounds, and even taking down the changes in acceleration and light. It then sends a notification plus evidence to your main phone notifying you of the intrusion. The log from the app does not get stored in the cloud.
Where can I get the Haven App?
Presently, the Haven app is only available in Public beta version. And it can be downloaded from the Google play store.
There will be more details later on the ‘Haven’. Stay tuned to this blog.