Prominent NSA contractor turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has recently released a new app in collaboration with the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Guardian Project. The app is described as “an open source security system for journalist and human rights defenders.” The app, Haven, uses all the sensors in modern smartphones (everything from the accelerometer to the charging port) to turn your cellphone into your very own high-powered pocket surveillance device.
It’s a pretty interesting concept, really. You take an old “burner” android phone and set up the app to run on it. Place the device in the area you want to be surveilled. The app will use the device’s assortment of sensors to detect motion and sound and will begin recording sound, video and take pictures while sending alerts to your personal device as well as makes all the “evidence” available to you through encrypted means.
It may look like something out of a spy movie but the threat is definitely real for many journalists and human rights advocates active in areas with more oppressive governments. The potential versatility of the app means that you don’t have to be James Bonds to get good use out of it. The app can be tailored to perform everything from basic home security to simply keeping an eye on your stuff when on a trip.
Using smartphones to track and monitor users isn’t anything new but using the same tech to catch and even deter threats looks like a much better use of the tech. While the Haven app is publicly available, it is only available for Android devices, and as of the date of this publishing, it is in beta and has a couple more bugs to be worked out.