There are a host of free, easy-to-use apps and programs that can help protect your privacy online, and if everybody uses them it can provide a sort of "herd immunity" said Edward Snowden in a live video chat from Russia on Wednesday.
Snowden appeared via teleconference in an event hosted by Ryerson University and Canadian Journalists For Expression, to launch the CJFE's online database that compiles all of the publicly released classified documents the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor leaked. In response to a Twitter question,Snowden expanded on what tools he recommends for privacy.
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"I hardly touch communications for anything that could be considered sensitive just because it's extremely risky," said Snowden.
But Snowden did go on to outline a few free programs that can help protect your privacy.
"You need to ensure your communications are protected in transit," said Snowden. "It's these sort of transit interceptions that are the cheapest, that are the easiest, and they scale the best."
Snowden recommended using programs and apps that provide end-to-end encryption for users, which means the computer on each end of the transaction can access the data, but not any device in between, and the information isn't stored unencrypted on a third-party server.
"SpiderOak doesn't have the encryption key to see what you've uploaded," said Snowden, who recommends using it instead of a file-sharing program like Dropbox. "You don't have to worry about them selling your information to third parties, you don't have to worry about them providing that information to governments."
"For the iPhone, there's a program called Signal, by Open Whisper Systems, it's very good," said Snowden.
He also recommended RedPhone, which allows Android users to make encrypted phone calls, and TextSecure, a private messenging app by Open Whisper Systems.
"I wouldn't trust your lives with any of these things, they don't protect you from metadata association but they do strongly protect your content from precisely this type of in-transit interception," said Snowden.
He emphasized that encryption is for everyone, not just people with extremely sensitive information.
"The more you do this, the more you get your friends, your family, your associates to adopt these free and easy-to-use technologies, the less stigma is associated with people who are using encrypted communications who really need them," said Snowden. "We're creating a kind of herd immunity that helps protect everybody, everywhere."