Snowden Casually Hosted a Crypto Party in Honolulu Months Before He Started Leaking

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 22 2014 12:25 PM

Snowden Casually Hosted a Crypto Party in Honolulu Months Before He Started Leaking

479407197-former-nsa-contractor-edward-snowden-appears-by-remote
Ain't no party like a crypto party.

Photo by GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been nearly a year since Edward Snowden began giving government officials migraine, yet information about his political beliefs and path to leaking troves of NSA documents has come out slowly.

Now a picture of the months leading up to his whistle blow is beginning to form, including the grass-roots CryptoParty movement he was a part of.

Advertisement

Wired reports that in December 2012, Snowden hosted a small get-together in Honolulu to teach residents how to be anonymous on the Internet and encrypt the information they stored on their local hard drives. The event was based on a broader grassroots CryptoParty movement, which began in Australia in 2011. The idea is that cryptography experts or anyone who knows how to use security software like PGP and Tor meet with community members to teach them how to have a more secure digital presence. Snowden’s involvement points to the issues he was thinking about in the months leading up to his public leaks.

Technologist and writer Runa Sandvik, who also presented at Snowden’s crypto party, told Wired that during the event, he introduced himself as Ed and didn’t want to talk about his background or where he worked. You can read the whole story of how Snowden planned the crypto party here, but more broadly it’s fascinating to have some insight into his thoughts leading up to the leak. One thing that has helped Snowden defend his motives and maintain a relatively positive public image in the United States is the understanding that there was danger and personal sacrifice inherent in his decision to act as a whistle-blower. His initial desire to educate people in his local community about these issues, fits with and perhaps spurred his later actions. Not everyone would do it, that’s for sure. Party on, crypto world.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.