Edward Snowden may be most (in)famous for his whistleblowing ways, but he’s set to prove that he’s capable of much more than leaking NSA secrets. The former CIA employee is keeping up his fight against digital surveillance, and this time, it’s in the form of an app. Meet Haven, Snowden’s new app that is meant to turn any Android phone into “a motion, sound, vibration and light detector, watching for unexpected guests and unwanted intruders.” Created with investigative journalists, human rights activists, and others “at risk of forced disappearance” in mind, Haven is said to leverage the existing sensors in a smartphone to prevent folks from “silencing citizens without getting caught in the act.”
The newly debuted app, created in partnership between the Freedom of the Press Association (of which Snowden is president) and the Guardian Project, can be installed on any old Android device, and will send notifications to your real smartphone should anyone attempt to tamper with your laptop.
Say you’re leaving your computer unattended in a hotel room or at home — simply place your Haven phone atop the device, and anytime the Android detects motion, light, or movement, it makes a note of this potential intrusion. It will take photos, record noises, and monitor variations in the environment, and then send notifications to you. Better yet, none of this information will be stored in the cloud — all communication you receive from Haven is end-to-end encrypted over Signal.
“Imagine if you had a guard dog you could take with you to any hotel room and leave it in your room when you’re not there. And it’s actually smart, and it witnesses everything that happens and creates a record of it,” Snowden told Wired via an encrypted phone call. “The real idea is to establish that the physical spaces around you can be trusted.”
Haven could also double as a baby monitor — after all, in the same way that it can detect someone tampering with your computer, it can detect someone walking in on your child. As Guardian Project founder Nate Freitas noted, “By tapping into the sensors and processing power on these devices with custom software, a system could feel the vibrations of someone walking, detect the shine of a flashlight, hear the sound of a door opening (or a child crying), or see someone entering into the view of a camera.” Every one of these potential “intruder alerts” is recorded on the Haven device, and users can receive real-time and, most importantly, secure notifications complete with image and sound to determine if they need to take action.
Currently available as a public beta, the open-sourced Haven project can be downloaded from Google Play today.