WASHINGTON, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - The new anti-surveillance technologies recently called for by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is much needed to ensure individuals' privacy and protection from government, Yan Zhu, a San-Francisco based staff technologist at Electronic Frontier Foundation, told RIA-Novosti Tuesday.
"This is good and much needed right now. This is extremely important. In an age where government agencies have the ability to spy on virtually any communications, people need to be able to defend themselves," Zhu said.
On Saturday, Snowden addressed the participants of the New York conference Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) via a video link from Moscow and urged them "to improve the future by encoding our rights into programs and protocols by which we rely every day."
The technologies Snowden mentioned are actively being worked on already, Zhu said, and are likely to get a new spin in the next few years. Some of such anti-surveillance projects include Tor, software and an open network that protects from traffic analysis, and Mailpile, an electronic mail service with special encryption and privacy features.
Zhu, who is part of Tor, also works on browser security and privacy extensions HTTPS Everywhere, which forces encrypted connections to websites, and Privacy Badger, which blocks invisible third-party trackers on the web. She said new technologies would most likely require the user to download new software, but large Internet companies may start to incorporate them by default into their products.
Such product will not only help protect personal data but allow to keep people working with secret information safe.
"Hopefully anyone who wants privacy and protection from government surveillance [will benefit]. This of course includes targeted groups like journalists and whistleblowers, but the tools should be easy enough that anyone can use them," Zhu said, adding those tool "are crucial to maintaining basic rights in our society, such as freedom of the press."
Among the downsides, Zhu mentioned the high cost of anti-surveillance projects and the low number of professionals working on them, which could reflect on the demand.
"There are not enough people working on these projects and not enough funding for them. It's still unclear whether anti-surveillance technology could have mass market appeal," Zhu said.
In an interview with the Guardian earlier this week, Snowden announced he was working on the encryption protocol that would allow people of certain professions, including journalists, to protect their sources and other and was negotiating with possible sponsors of the project.
In June 2013, Snowden leaked information about the extensive electronic surveillance programs conducted by the US government around the globe, including eavesdropping on American citizens and foreign leaders. The revelations sparked domestic controversy and strained relations between Washington and its partners worldwide.
The whistleblower fled the United States and received a one-year temporary asylum in Russia last August, after spending a month in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
The United States accused Snowden of theft, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified documents to an unauthorized person. Each of the three charges carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.