Can a Fridge Block a Wireless Signal? Edward Snowden Thought So

The famous whistleblower apparently used his fridge as a Faraday cage. But did it achieve anything?


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By now you probably know that the NSA has eyes everywhere. Your iPhone may be a miracle of personal technology, but it's also a vessel through which the feds surveil how often you listen to One Direction.

If ever you want to momentarily “unplug” your mobile device from the global NSA surveillance network, you’ll need a Faraday cage, which is essentially any compartment that shields its interior from an electrical field.

It was recently reported by the New York Times that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden ordered a group of lawyers visiting his residence to place their phones in the refrigerator, believing the fridge would act as a Faraday cage and therefore prevent outside surveillance of the meeting. The idea of a refrigerator-turned-Faraday cage has nothing to do with temperature, but rather the material it’s made of.

MAKE’s Michael Colombo quickly put this theory to the test by calling a mobile device placed in his refrigerator. It didn’t work. A cocktail shaker, on the other hand, did.

You’ll notice in the video, though, that Michael’s fridge is not stainless steel, whereas the shaker is. And it’s likely the steel that works as an electromagnetic shield. It’s also probable that Snowden placed his guests’ phones in a stainless steel fridge (we can assume that much about his intelligence, right?), which would be much more effective at inhibiting wireless signals.

But if you truly want to prevent the NSA from listening to that blubbering midnight phone call to your ex-girlfriend, you could think about shielding your house in stainless steel. But that’s just crazy. And stainless steel is so 2007 anyway...

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