The Nobel Prize, Angry Birds, and airport hacking
A summary of recent Snowden related events
Article: Ravi Sakaran – Contributor
Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, is again in the spotlight as two Norwegian parliamentarians, Snorre Valen and Baard Vegar Solhjell, nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
According to Russia Today, the lawmakers from Norway’s Socialist Left Party announced their nomination on Facebook, stating that Snowden contributed to “transparency and global stability” by revealing the depth and sophistication of the global surveillance apparatus.”
The MPs stressed that, “peace is more than simply the absence of war,” and said that Snowden had contributed to global security by revealing “the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance. “The level of sophistication and depth of surveillance that citizens all over the world are subject to, has stunned us, and stirred debate all over the world.”
This isn’t the first time that Snowden has been credited to such awards. In July 2013, the German branch of Transparency International awarded Snowden its Whistleblower Award.
Swedish sociology professor Stefan Svallfors also nominated NSA whistleblower, Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize for his “heroic effort at great personal cost.” He said giving Snowden the Nobel nomination could “save the prize from the disrepute incurred by the hasty and ill-conceived decision” to give the 2009 award to Barack Obama.
In another relating story, the Guardian has reported that some of the documents leaked by Snowden suggest that intelligence agencies have an ally in Angry Birds, a gaming app, and many other apps installed on smartphones around the world.
The documents, according to the Guardian suggest that the mapping, gaming, and social networking apps, can provide America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ with huge amounts of personal data, including location information and details such as political affiliation or sexual orientation.
The size and extent of this program isn’t public knowledge, but the reports suggest that U.S. and British intelligence agencies easily get routine access to data generated by apps such as the Angry Birds game franchise or the Google Maps navigation service.
There is speculation that there might be a backdoor in the code that allows these companies to be vulnerable to such surveillance.
Despite these revelations, more questionable intelligence gathering methods continue to surface. CBC News reported that according to some of the documents leaked by Snowden Canada’s Spy agency used information from the free Internet service at a major Canadian airport to track the wireless devices of thousands of ordinary airline passengers and obtained metadata for days after they left the terminal.
Communication Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the Canadian equivalent for the NSA, has denied targeting or spying on Canadians.
CSEC chief John Forster stated that, “I can tell you that we do not target Canadians at home or abroad in our foreign intelligence activities, nor do we target anyone in Canada.”
The role of CSEC is still developing as the Carillon goes to print.
Metadata reveals a trove of information including, for example, the location and telephone numbers of all calls a person makes and receives.
The metadata apparently identified travelers’ wireless devices, but not the content of calls made or emails sent from them.