The Privacy Methods Edward Snowden Uses

For anyone trying to evade the NSA and other prying eyes from his or her Internet data, Edward Snowden has some services for you. 

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For anyone trying to evade the NSA and other prying eyes from his or her Internet data, Edward Snowden has some services for you. There are various—albeit onerous—ways to protect your online self, as detailed in this handy Atlantic Wire guide. Then, there are the Snowden ways. Since learning about the former NSA employee turned whistleblower, we have also had the chance to learn about the companies he has trusted for his digital protection, which is an incredible brand endorsement for any pro-privacy, anti-government-snooping organization out there. So, if you're looking for that kind of thing out of an Internet provider, why not go with the ones Snowden himself trusts? Here's how to avoid the NSA the Snowden way.


Snowden uses a service called Lavabit for his email, according to a message he sent to the human rights organization he met with in Russia today. With Gmail, Outlook, AOL, and Yahoo all out of the question because these companies participate in the NSA's PRISM program, careful emailers need something off the grid, so to speak. Lavabit, however, has the added bonus of lots and lots of encryption. It uses Secure Sockets Layer encryption to "ensure that information could be transported securely over an untrusted network" and also has something it calls asymmetric encryption that "provides a priceless level of security" by using "public key and private key encryption to make messages unreadable without knowing a user's plaintext password." In other words, it's impossible to know the content of your email without knowing your password as well. Also, for those who don't like selling their information to marketers, Lavabit promises not to do that either, making all of its money off of its premium account subscription model.


From the stickers on his laptop, we know that Snowden at least supports Tor—short for The Onion Route—and also probably uses it as his browser of choice.

As the Atlantic Wire's Philip Bump explained, Tor's benefit is that it "establishes a system through which your requests to web servers travel through three other anonymous servers around the world first. It's like changing between three cabs on your way to your destination." That makes it very hard to track web traffic, which is also why it's the browser of choice for illicit drug sellers and buyers on the Silk Road. Technically, the U.S. government can get around its clever scheme. But, Snowden's approval suggests it hasn't.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation

This online privacy organization—another one of the stickers on Snowden's laptop—won't provide any specific NSA-proof services, but its website is a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Internet privacy. The policy analysts, lawyers, activists, and technologies take on lawsuits and publish papers on electronic issues. The site also has a whole section dedicated to "privacy" in the digital age.

So, there you have it: The Snowden-approved way to Internet. Who knows, maybe he'll get some product endorsement deals out of his situation.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.