Snowden told Moudeina that he was operating on an app that could turn a mobile device into a kind of motion sensor in form to notify you when your things are being tampered with. The app could also tell you when someone had opened your room without you identifying, if someone had moved your things, or if someone had stormed into your friend’s home in the middle of the night. Snowden reported that pivotal talk in an interview with the News. “She got very serious and told me, ‘I want this. I need this now. There are so many citizens around us who need this.’”
Haven, announced today, is an app that performs just that. Installed on a cheap burner Android device, Haven posts notifications to your private, main phone in the event that your laptop has been tampered with. If you leave your laptop at the house or at an office or in a hotel bedroom, you can place your Haven phone on top of the laptop, and when Haven recognizes motion, light, or movement basically, anything that might be someone messing with your stuff it logs what occurred. It takes photos, records sound, even takes down fluctuations in light or acceleration, and then sends information to your main phone. None of this logging is stored in the cloud, and the information you receive on your main phone is end-to-end encrypted over Signal.
Snowden hasn’t bought a mobile device since 2013, but in the last few of years, much of his time has been taken up by tearing apart smartphones and pushing away at their circuit boards with the aid of fine tweezers and a scope. In 2016, he co-operated with hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang on Introspection Engine, a phone case that controls iPhone outputs, alerting you to when your device is broadcasting signals through its antenna.
“You shouldn’t have to be saving the earth to benefit from Haven,” said Snowden, but admitted that the people most likely to be using Haven were paranoid developers and human rights activists in the global south. Andy Greenberg describes in News how the Guardian Project worked with the Colombian activist group Movilizatario to run an experiment of the software earlier this year.