Google’s open source Android OS has will incorporate code, first developed by the NSA in 2011, into future versions. What the code does not include, according to Android Central’s Jerry Hildebrand, is any kind of “backdoor” for the NSA’s snooping.
Known as “Security Enhancements for Android”, the code “isolates apps to prevent hackers and marketers from gaining access to personal or corporate data stored on a device” according to Bloomberg. NSA Spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in an email that eventually all new phones, tablets, televisions, cars, and other Android devices will include the NSA code.
Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano confirmed that Android is already incorporating some if the NSA’s programming, but stressed the fact that, “All Android code and contributors are publicly available for review at source.android.com.” While she declined further comment, the implication seemed to be that Google has nothing to hide.
Hildebrand elaborated on the fact that Android is open source and its code is freely available for scrutiny. He lays it out in his article:
You can relax folks. While the NSA has no official statement about what they call their Security Enhancements for Android project’s link to the PRISM project, this isn’t something new. They’ve been working on this Android code since 2011, which is an offshoot of their SE (Security-Enhanced) Linux project before that. Their SELinux code was peer reviewed by anyone and everyone, and the commits were generally accepted as being great additions that make a secure operating system even more safe.
While Android isn’t developed in the open, upon release the code is all available. There are all manner of very smart and god-like code nerds pouring through it, and any shenanigans would be quickly uncovered. Let’s just take a deep breath, and realize that the NSA could be very helpful writing code to keep systems secure.