Linux creator admits NSA demanded backdoor

Linus Torvalds prompts nervous laughter at panel, admitting the government wanted access to operating system

By Natasha Lennard
Published September 19, 2013 7:27PM (EDT)
 Linus Tovalds   (Wikimedia)
Linus Tovalds (Wikimedia)

Speaking at the keynote LinuxCon panel this year, Linus Torvalds, who created the open-source Linux operating system 22 years ago, revealed that the government had approached him about installing a backdoor into system's structure. Linux is the preferred operating system for the privacy conscious infosec community.

It's just the latest in a string of revelations illustrating how the NSA have for a number of years attempted to intervene in the very structuring of online communications and cryptography to enable easier surveillance.

EWeek.com reported on Torvalds' panel admission (although the suggestion is that the Linux creator resisted government pressure):

Torvalds was also asked if he had ever been approached by the U.S. government to insert a backdoor into Linux. Torvalds responded "no" while [nodding] his head "yes," as the audience broke into spontaneous laughter.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Backdoor Government Linus Torvalds Linux Nsa Open Source Surveillance