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Snowden Asks Visitors to Refrigerate Their Phones

Jun 26 2013, 2:38am CDT | by , in News | Other Stuff

Snowden Asks Visitors to Refrigerate Their Phones

Edward J. Snowden requested a couple of lawyers to refrigerate their phones prior to eating dinner. The visitors and Snowden were in Hong Kong at the moment. He asked them to do this strange act so as to avoid any chances of eavesdropping.

Can we make any sense of the action prescribed by NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden? He told some people he was with to hide their phones in the refrigerator. The rationale was to avert any eavesdropping attempts. But why freeze the phones? The answer has nothing to do with the cold temperature. As a matter of fact, the fridge doesn’t have to be turned on either. Rather the insulated walls of the refrigerator act as an anti-electronic infiltration device. It cuts off radio signals and the audio facility too. The thick metallic insulation was the chief protective agent against spying.

According to The New York Times, the structure of a refrigerator acts as a Faraday Cage. This is a form of storage space that is strictly off-limits to radio waves. Not all refrigerators are like this. But those with metal bodies do act as Faraday Cages. Meanwhile, there are other objects which can act as shield-like devices. A stainless steel martini shaker comes to mind. Using the martini shaker as a model an OFF Pocket has been constructed. This wards off any surveillance activities. While data can be blocked, audio signals are not easily muffled. Even in a metallic refrigerator it is a difficult task to accomplish. A better option would be to wrap your phone in a pile of clothes in another room.

The obvious question on everyone’s mind is why not just turn off the phone. And furthermore to remove the batteries would be even better. But then many batteries are not that easily disconnected. And the phones are in a semi-active state. This means that they are neither off nor on. Thus a phone may be activated at the slightest pretext. This could be an act as simple as pressing a key. And as far as battery removal is concerned it is not such a foolproof method. Even after taking the battery out other electronic power switches in the phone will act as potential surveillance attractors. The whole issue is one of creating a dense and impenetrable barrier between the phone and the rest of the world. This way all surveillance efforts will fail to reach the device.  

Image Credit: Getty Images

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