Snowden Hails Apple Inc. As Privacy Pioneer

In an editorial in The New York Times on June 5th, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden took a congratulatory bow, slammed the U.S. government and lauded tech giant Apple for being an industry pioneer on privacy issues.

Snowden Hails Apple Inc. As Privacy Pioneer

Snowden started his op-ed piece by rather immodestly taking credit for the revamping of the Patriot Act, although in fairness he did play a major, if indirect role. He says: “Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen…”

More on Apple technology and personal privacy issues

In terms of Apple, Snowden notes: “Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private.”

Snowden’s praise for Apple is a fitting counterpoint to the criticism that the company has received from U.S. law enforcement authorities for iOS 8’s security. For example, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole claimed back in 2014 that Apple was marketing to criminals, and that its technology would one day lead to the death of a child since police would not be able to get the data they needed from an iPhone.

iOS 8 is designed to encrypt iPhone and iPad data automatically, but Apple has  no access to encryption keys, so the firm cannot produce someone’s data even when pressured by intelligence agencies or is served a subpoena.

Earlier Snowden documents revealed a CIA program to crack the security of iOS, OS X, BitLocker, and other platforms. The extent that U.S. intelligence may have compromised iOS 8, earlier versions of iOS have been cracked by law enforcement.

Major turnaround from earlier comments from Snowden on Apple

Of note, these recent comments from Snowden are a complete about face from a few months ago, when the whisleblower’s lawyer said that he will not use an iPhone, since they have “has special software that can activate itself without the owner” that will collect data. The statement from Snowden’s attorney did not expand the whether that meant deep-level spyware or just general data tracking for device diagnostics.

  • Kelley

    So how is anything Snowden says relevant? Is he now the tech guru of privacy and if so then there’s very little hope for any of us keeping anything private.

  • AAPL.To.Break.$130.Soon>:-)

    Apple will again be attacked by the news media for not being more like Google by offering everything for free and being totally open. I’m really surprised more people don’t care about their privacy being invaded by Google. I guess the word “free” stops people from thinking straight.


    It appears Apple takes security just as serious as BlackBerry if not more so.