After the creepy Presidential Alert test went out this week, the more reactionary among us on the privacy front, warned the public they should fear for their personal security. Do we really need to worry about the government taking over our phones on top of everything else? The experts have weighed in.
Leading the call for alarm was the often off-kilter John McAffee, an eccentric, to be sure, but also an internet security pioneer.
The "Presidential alerts": they are capable of accessing the E911 chip in your phones – giving them full access to your location, microphone, camera and every function of your phone. This not a rant, this is from me, still one of the leading cybersecurity experts. Wake up people!
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) October 3, 2018
Exiled privacy crusader Edward Snowden also expressed the need for concern about privacy and the Presidential Alert.
The same centralized infrastructure that lets them send something to everyone enables them to read anything from anyone. Curious about how such surveillance works? Read more: https://t.co/j8MSdi46nN
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 3, 2018
But before you smash your device in the name of anonymity, the more measured legal and tech experts from the Electronic Frontier Foundation say those fears are overblown. EFF Senior Staff Technologist Cooper Quin explains why both Snowden and McCafee are wrong and spreading little more than conspiracy theories.
“There are many legitimate reasons to be concerned about cellular privacy,” he writes. “It’s important that we keep an eye on the real threats and not get distracted by wild conspiracy theories.”