Edward Snowden interviewed Joe Rogan
How has government surveillance changed in recent years?
Why the smartphone is the new source of surveillance data.
The whole interview with Edward Snowden in German
Completely German synchronization of the interview with Edward Snowden.
Edward Snowden Transcription (German) on the changes in government surveillance since 2013:
Joe: What has changed in the last few years? How is state surveillance set up today?
[00: 00: 01]
Yeah, I mean, the big thing that has changed since 2013 is Now the cell phone is the most important thing.
Mobile was still a big deal and the intelligence community went out of their way to get their hands on it and deal with it. But now people are far less likely to use a laptop and then a desktop computer when they already know some type of wired phone than they are using a smartphone. Unfortunately, neither Apple nor Android devices are particularly well suited to protecting your privacy. You have a smartphone now, right? Perhaps you're listening to this on a train somewhere in traffic. Or you? Yeah, you have a phone somewhere in the room. Correct. The phone is switched off or at least the screen is switched off. It is there. It's on. And when someone sends you a message, the screen comes to life. How can this happen? How is it that when someone dials a number from anywhere in the world, your phone rings, and nobody else does? How can it be that you can dial someone else's number and only their phone rings? Every smartphone, every phone in general, is constantly connected to the next cell phone market. Any phone, even when the screen is off. Do you think it does nothing? You can't see it because radio frequency emissions are invisible. It screams in the air and says here I am. Here I am. Here is my IMSI. I think it's the devices.
[00: 01: 31]
Identity of each manufacturer and the identity of the IMEI subscribers of each manufacturer.
I might be wrong about the term there, but the acronyms are the IMSI and the IMEI and you can search for those things. There are two globally unique identifications that only exist in one place somewhere in the world. This sets your phone apart from all other phones. The IMEI is branded into the hand side of your phone. Regardless of which SIM card you switched to, it will always be the same and always tell the telephone network that it is this physical mobile part. The IMSI is in your SIM card and your telephone number is saved on it. It's basically the key, the right to use that phone number. So your phone sits there and does nothing. But think, it keeps screaming and saying I'm here. Whoever is closest to me is the cell tower. And every cell phone market with their big ears listens to those little cries for help and says fine, I see Joe Rogan's phone and I see James phone. I see all of these phones that are here right now. And he compares the notes with the other network masks. Your smartphone, compares the notes with them and asks who do I hear loudest and who do you hear? The loudest is the proximity for the close range. When I hear it louder than anyone else. Then it's near me. So you will be tied to this cellular market. And this cellular market is going to make a note.
[00: 03: 07]
A permanent record stating that this phone was connected to me at that phone number at the time.
And based on your telephone receiver and phone number, you can find out who you are, because you pay for that stuff with your credit card and so on. Even if you don't, it is still active in your home overnight. It's still active on your bedside table when you sleep. It is still whatever the movement of your phone is, the movement of you as a person, and these are often pretty clearly identifying. It goes to your home. It goes to your workplace. Other people don't have it. Anyway, it keeps screaming out and then comparing the notes with the other parts of the web. And when someone tries to get to a phone, it compares the notes on the network, compares the notes of where that phone is supposed to go. With that phone number in the world right now and to the cell tower closest to that phone, it sends out a signal that says We have a call for you. Let your phone ring so its owner can answer and then he'll connect it all the way. But that means every time you carry a phone with you. Every time the phone is turned on, there is a record of your presence in that location made and created by companies. They don't need to be kept forever, nor is there a good argument that they should be kept forever.
[00: 04: 39]
But these companies see this as valuable information. That's the whole big data problem we're running into.
And all this information that used to be ephemeral. Where were they when they were eight years old? We worry about where you've been after a bad breakup. Who did you spend the night with? Who did they call after all? This information used to be ephemeral. That is, they disappeared like the morning dew. They would go away. Nobody would remember. But now these things are saved. Now these things are saved. It doesn't matter if you're doing something wrong. It doesn't matter if you are the most common person on earth. Because that's how it works. Collecting crowds. That the government's euphemism is for mass surveillance. They just gathered everything up in advance, hoping that one day it would come in handy. That was just about how to connect a telephone network and not about all the apps on the phone that come into contact with the network more frequently in the right way. How do I get an SMS notification? How do you receive an email notification? How is it that Facebook knows where you are right now? All these things, these analyzes that you are trying to keep track of via security on your phone, via GPS and even which wireless access points you are currently connected to, that one global, constantly updated map of wireless access points around the world there are actually many of them.
[00: 06: 10] Because just like we talked about every phone, every phone has a unique identifier.
This is unique in the world. Any wireless access point in the world. You keep them at home. No matter if you are in your laptop or not. Every device that has a wireless modem has a globally unique identifier and that is a STANDARD term. You can look it up. And these things can be assigned when you send in the air. Because as your phone says to the cellular market, I have this ID, the cell tower replies and says I have this ID and anyone who listens can write these things down and all of this! Google Street View cars driving back and forth take notes of whose Wi-Fi is active on this blog and then they build up a huge map. So even if you've turned off GPS, as long as you're connected to Wi-Fi, these apps can still run. Well, I'm connected to Joe's Wi-Fi, but I can also see his neighbor's WiFi here and the other one in this apartment here and the other one in this apartment here. And you should only be able to hear these four globally unique WiFi access points from these points in physical space. The intersection between them, the spread, the domes of all these wireless access points. It's a proxy for the location and it just goes on and on and on. We can talk about it for another four hours. We don't have that time.
[00: 07: 52]
Joe: So asked directly: Does it even help to switch off your own phone?
In a way, yes. The thing is, turning off your phone is a risk.
How do you know your phone is actually turned off? It used to be. For example when I was working as an engineer for the CIA. We'd all wear phones like drug dealers, the old smartphones, the sad, old, stupid phones. These are not smartphones. The reason for this was simply that they had removable batteries that could have the battery removed. The only nice thing about the technology is that it does not send anything if there is no power in it, if there is no juice available, if no battery is connected, then it sends nothing because you have to get power somewhere. You have to have electricity to be able to work. But now their phones are all sealed. You cannot remove the batteries. So there are potential ways to hack a phone when it appears to be turned off. But in reality it is not turned off. It only pretends to be switched off while in reality it is still listening. And doing all of these things. But that is not the case for the average person. I have to tell you that you chased me all over the place. I am not worried about this stuff. It's because if you try so hard for me, you are likely to get the same information through other channels. I am as careful as I can and I use things like paradise cages.
[00: 09: 17]
I turn off devices, but if you actually manipulate the way the devices display it is just too much of a hassle for someone like me to keep it going all the time.
Anyway, if you get me, I'll only trust Phone enough that you can only deduce so much from the compromise. And this is how operational safety works. You think about the real world threats you are facing, trying to mitigate, and mitigation you are trying to achieve. Is that the loss, what would be the harm that would be done to them? If this stuff has been exploited, far more realistically than worrying about these things I call the Vodoo Witch, which are something like Next Level stuff and are really just an exclamation point for those of their readers who are interested in this stuff . I have written a treatise on this particular problem. How do you know when a phone is actually turned off? How do you know when it's not spying on you? You can find him online and he will crawl as deep into the weeds as you want. I promise you. We're taking an iPhone 6, that was back when I was pretty new, and we modified it so that we couldn't really rely on the device to report its own condition, but rather physically monitor its condition to see whether it spied.
[00: 10: 39]
But for the average person, it's academic.
That is not their primary threat. Their main threats are these masses, surveys, programs. Their main threat is the fact that your phone is constantly squawking at those cell towers. It does all of these things because we leave our phones in a state that is always on. You are constantly connected. Airplane mode doesn't even cut off WiFi anymore. He only switches off the cellular modem. But the whole idea is we have to identify the problem. The main problem with using smartphones today is that you have no idea what the hell it's doing. The way the phone turned off the screen, you don't know what it's connected to. Do not know how common is that doing. Unfortunately, Apple and iOS make it impossible to recognize what type of network connections are constantly being established on the device and to relay them. I don't want Facebook to be able to talk right now. I don't want Google to be able to speak right now. I just want my secure messenger app to speak. I just want my weather app to talk. But I just checked my weather and now I'm done with it. So I don't want to be able to talk anymore and we have to be able to make these smart decisions not just for every single app, but for every single connection.
[00: 12: 00]
Let's say you use Facebook.
We have a lot of people doing that. You want it to be able to connect to Facebook's content servers. You want to send a message to a friend. You want to be able to download a photo or something else, but you don't want it to be able to talk to an ad server. You don't want it to talk to an analytics server that monitors your behavior. You don't want to talk to all of these third-party things because Facebook is crowded. It's rubbish and almost every application you download. And you don't even know what is happening because you can't see it. And that is the problem with the data collection in use today. There is an industry built around keeping this invisible. And what we have to do is we have to make the activity of our devices, whether it is a phone, a computer or whatever, more visible and understandable to the average person and then give them control over it. For example, if you could see your phone now, and in the middle of the green icon, your phone, or a picture of your face, and then you would see all those little spokes detached from the fact that every app your phone is talking to is or any app that is currently active on your phone and any hosts it is currently connecting to that you can currently see.
[00: 13: 24]
Every three seconds your phone checks into Facebook and you can just bump into this app.
And then boom! It no longer speaks to Facebook. Facebook is not allowed. The Facebook voice permission has been revoked. You would do that. We'd all do this if there was a button on her phone that said Do what I want but don't spy on me. You would press that button. This button doesn't exist at the moment and neither Google nor Apple. Unfortunately Apple is much better at this than Google, but neither of them allows this button to exist. In fact, they are actively interfering with it because they say it is a security risk. And from one perspective, they are actually not wrong with that. But it is not enough. We have to isolate these skills from people because we have no trust. You would make the right decisions. And we think it's too complicated for people to do. We think too many connections are being made. Well, that's actually an admission of the problem there. When you think people cannot understand when you think there is too much communication.
[00: 14: 34]
If you think there is too much complexity there, it has to be simplified, just as the President cannot control everything.
So if you have to be the president of the phone and the phone is as complex as the United States government, then we have a problem folks. This should be a much simple process. It should be obvious, and the fact that it isn't, and the fact that we read story after story year after year, that all of your data has been breached here, that these companies are spying on you, that these companies are spying on your purchases or yours Manipulate search results, or that you hide these things from your timeline, or that you influence them and manipulate them in all of these different ways. This is the result of a single problem, and that problem is with every quality of information available. They can see everything about you. You can see everything about what your device is doing, and you can do what you want with your device. On the other hand, you own. The device, well, they were more likely to have paid for the device. But more and more companies that are using it, more and more governments own it, and more and more we live in a world where we do all the work. We all pay taxes, we pay all costs, but we own less and less and nobody understands this better than the youngest generation.
[00: 16: 05]
Exactly. Because the money then becomes the pot. The information that becomes an influence. Correct. Yes, you are exactly right and that is the subject of the book. I mean, this is the permanent record and that's where it comes from. That's how it came about.
Joe: Governments won't just give up the new opportunities?
The story of our lifetime is how it has been deliberately recognized by a number of institutions, both government and corporate and institutional, that it was in their mutual interest to hide their data collection activities in order to enlarge the breadth and depth of their sensor networks.
These were, so to speak, common for the society of the time. Even in the south rail. In the United States, it was common for me to send an FBI agent to put crocodile clamp on an embassy building, or to send someone disguised as a handyman in and have a bug put in a building. Or they set up satellite surveillance. We called these foreign sets or foreign satellite collections. We're out in the desert. Somewhere they built a large parabolic collector and it only heard the satellite emissions. But those satellite emissions, these satellite connections were owned by the military. They were reserved for governments only. That didn't affect everyone by and large. All surveillance was targeted because it had to be. What changed with technology was that surveillance could now be indiscriminate. It could become a raster search. It could turn into what would become one of the filthiest phrases in language. If we have any kind of propriety, but on purpose, it has been purposely hidden from us.
[00: 18: 00]
The government did it.
[00: 19: 25]
The scandal isn't how you break the law.
The scandal is, you don't have to break the law. And the way you say you don't break the law is something called third party doctrine. A foreign doctrine is a principle of justice and derives from a case I believe was called Smith v Maryland in the 1970s. And Smith was that idiot who molested this lady when she called her home on the phone. And when she picked up he just sat there. I don't know and was breathing hard like a classic creeper. And that scared that poor lady. She called the police and said one day I got one of those calls and I saw a car drive by my house on the street and she got a license plate. So they went to the police and said this is the guy. The police tried again to do something good here. They tried looking for his license plate number and found out where this guy is. And then they go to the phone numbers that are on that house and they go to the phone company and say, Can you give us this record? The phone company says yes, sure, and it's the guy. The police have their husband, so arrest this guy. And then his attorney brings that stuff up in court and you go. You did this without a warrant. The problem was that she went to the phone company and got the records without a warrant.
[00: 20: 53]
They just asked for it or you summoned them.
Any lower STANDARD of legal review and the company gave it to them and got the guy. They continued to march to the prison and they could have got a search warrant, but it was only timed. They just didn't want to take the time. With small town cops, you can understand how it happens that they know the guy's a sneak. You just want to put them in jail. But the government will not let up, they are fighting on this matter and they assume that it was actually not his notes, and because they did not belong to him, he had no right to demand an arrest warrant for them under the fourth amendment. It was the company's records and the company volunteered them. And that's why Warren was challenged, because you can give what you want without a warrant as long as it's yours. Well here is the problem. The government has extrapolated a principle in a single case by a single known suspected criminal for whom it had really good reasons. The suspect was her husband and used this to go to a company and get records from them and set a precedent. These records do not belong to the man who owns them, but to the company. And then she says if a person has no interest in the Fourth Amendment to a company's records, then no one has an interest in it.
[00: 22: 23]
And so the company then has absolute ownership of all these records for our entire life.
And that was in the 1970s. The Internet hardly exists in such contexts. There are no smartphones. Modern society and modern communication do not exist. This is the dawn of the technological age and a future. The vision of 40 years now. And they still rely on that precedent, over that one perverted creeper. Nobody has a right to privacy for anything that is held by a company. And as long as they do that, companies will be extraordinarily powerful and they will be extremely abusive. And that's something that people don't understand. They go. Well, it's the right to data collection. You are exploiting data. This is data about human life, this is data about people. These records are about us. It is not data that is being exploited. It's people who are being exploited. It is not data that is being manipulated. It is you who are being manipulated. And that's something I think a lot of people are starting to understand. The problem is that businesses and governments are still pretending they don't understand or disagree with it. And that reminds me of something one of my old friends, John Perry Barlow, who is with me on the Freedom of the Press Foundation. I am the President of the Board, who used to say You can't wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.