Snowden 'Sped Up Encryption' by Seven Years

edward snowden encryption james clapper
US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to European officials via video conference during a parliamentary hearing on improving the protection of whistleblowers, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, eastern France, on June 24, 2014. FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

The sophistication of encryption technology has been advanced by around seven years as a result of the Snowden revelations, according to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Clapper said that former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden had damaged the spy agency's ability to monitor communications.

"As a result of the Snowden revelations, the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years," Clapper said at a press meeting on Monday.

"The projected growth maturation and installation of commercially available encryption—what [the NSA] had forecasted for seven years ahead, three years ago, was accelerated to now, because of the revelation of the leaks."

Many major technology companies, including Google, Facebook, and Apple, have introduced stronger encryption on their products and services in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Earlier this month, messaging app introduced end-to-end encryption to protect its users from "cybercriminals," "hackers," and "oppressive regimes."

The idea of unbreakable encryption was dismissed by Clapper as unlikely, however, telling reporters: "In the history of mankind, since we've been doing signals intelligence, there's really no such thing, given proper time, and proper application of technology."

This idea is backed up by the FBI's recent success in breaking into an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Snowden originally dismissed claims from the FBI that it could not crack the iPhone as "bullshit."

The recent advancements with encryption have had "a profound effect on [intelligence agencies] ability to collect, particularly against terrorists," Clapper said.

In response to Clapper's claims, Snowden tweeted: "Of all the things I've been accused of, this is the one of which I'm most proud."

Snowden 'Sped Up Encryption' by Seven Years | Tech & Science