Expert Pitch

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

Released: 17-Feb-2014 1:05 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
Contact Information

Available for logged-in reporters only

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.”

UNLICENSED SPECTRUM

“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.”

PUBLIC KEY CRYPTO

“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.: http://www.cornell.edu/video/nsa-surveillance-and-the-death-of-privacy/s987/e1486

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: https://www.edx.org/course/cornellx/cornellx-engri1280x-wiretaps-big-data-1246

For interviews contact:
Syl Kacapyr
Office: (607) 255-7701
Cell: (607) 339-6450
vpk6@cornell.edu

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

Promote your organization’s experts with Expert Pitch.
Reporters: follow @Expert_Pitch to receive instant updates via Twitter
       
Looking for a different expert? Reporters can submit an
Expert Query.

Comment/Share