Snoop-Free Phones: 3 Ways Phones Will Evade NSA Spying

Article ID: 613861

Released: 17-Feb-2014 1:05 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Cornell University

Expert Pitch

Stephen Wicker is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University and author of “Cellular Convergence and the Death of Privacy.” He is available to discuss how cellular systems can be converted to prevent spying from the NSA and businesses.

He says:

“Government spying has created a market, a vacuum that technical people are going to fill. A surveillance-free handset is going to be extremely important, and there is a clear roadmap for its development.” OPEN SOURCE DEVELOPMENT

“There are a number of examples of technologies that have been developed in the open, Linux is probably the best example. Open-source surveillance-free seems almost paradoxical, but it’s really not. If you have an open-source device, you can’t hide anything in that device – software, malware, whatever the case may be.”

“One of the things we’ve shown in our research is that it is possible to create a system in which a user of a mobile device proves to their service provider that they’re a valid user, that they’ve paid their bills, and can access that system without saying who they are.

“So the key idea is to separate the tracking of the handset from the tracking of the user. Basically, we have a random string of numbers associated with the handset, and using what we call a zero-knowledge proof, we show that the string of numbers is associated with a paid account, and then we can enjoy cellular service while the service provider has no way of connecting the data associated with that handset to any individual.”


“The FCC says certain portions of the spectrum can be used for unlicensed communication with some relatively limited restrictions. This is what current Wi-Fi technology is built on. It was a brilliant idea and it has worked well. We can use that spectrum for whatever we wish, including surveillance-free cellular.”


“It starts with public key cryptography, which already lies at the heart of e-commerce. It’s why we can safely send our credit card numbers over the Internet when we buy a book on Amazon.”

VIDEO: Wicker discusses surveillance-free phones in Washington, D.C.:

MOOC: Wicker is instructing the free, massive open online course, “Wiretaps to Big Date: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Interconnection,” which is currently open for enrollment and begins March 2:

For interviews contact:Syl KacapyrOffice: (607) 255-7701Cell: (607)

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.


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