Linux and Other Open Source Technologies Protect Online Privacy: Snowden

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Short Bytes: At the OpenStack Summit, the ex-NSA contractor talked about the downsides of proprietary software and their threat to people’s privacy. Snowden promotes the use of open source software for privacy including Tor, Tails, Debian, etc.

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who is living in exile since 2013 when he uncovered NSA’s surveillance operations. However, the tech world’s robin hood makes quite a few virtual appearances and gives his views on the state of privacy.

Snowden’s latest Q&A interaction happened with OpenStack Foundation’s COO Mark Collier over a video conference call during the OpenStack Summit. Snowden emphasized that premium cloud platform and proprietary software are a dent on people’s privacy.

The NSA hacker has a soft corner for open source software as it allows people to share information without eternal interference. A few names he mentioned include Tor network, Debian open source OS, and the anonymity optimized Tails Linux distribution. He used a number of open source software during his 2013 revelation.

In the past, Snowden has promoted the Signal app which is known for its end-to-end encryption offering, and he had plans to create an iPhone privacy case. Also, he is working on an open source tool called SecureDrop which allows documents to be shared with the media.

There is an uncertainty about the closed-source software that prevents Snowden from trusting them, you never know when they’re spying on you. “All systems should be designed to obey the users and they should not lie to the user,” he said.

Snowden continued to elaborate the fact that most people don’t have a say when a bug is encountered in some proprietary code. “When Apple has a security flaw … we can’t evaluate whether their response was good enough … and we have no influence over it.”

Speaking more about open source, Snowden said that “we don’t have to compromise. We want a better world so we’re going to build it.”

Snowden also said that we are standing at a technology crossroad and facing the moral dilemma we didn’t ask for. However, we can fix this by creating things that would be good for the next 100 years.

His Freedom of the Press Foundation is also working on ways to expand the capabilities of open source software. They are working on a hardware that can tell if your smartphone really following your orders when your turn off the GPS or put the device in airplane mode.