News in brief: Snowden supporters petition Obama; iOS Onion browser now free; bank bans WhatsApp

Your daily round-up of some of the other security stories in the news

Snowden supporters in last-ditch bid for pardon from Obama

As Barack Obama enters his final week in the White House, more than 1m campaigners have signed a petition urging him to pardon Edward Snowden before he leaves office.

It seems unlikely that Snowden, who leaked documents he’d stolen from the NSA and then fled, ending up in Russia, will be pardoned, as the Obama administration has said that Snowden must face the judicial music.

The move comes as a sharply critical new book about Snowden by Edward Jay Epstein is published. Epstein’s book, How America Lost Its Secrets, which looks at the evidence for the claims made both for and against Snowden, acknowledges that Snowden’s warning about “the potential danger of a surveillance leviathan” was a “salutary service”, but he notes that most of the documents stolen by Snowden had nothing to do with privacy.

What happens to Snowden after Donald Trump, whose attitude to Vladimir Putin‘s Russia is something of a change from previous administrations’ views, takes office, is anyone’s guess.

iOS Onion browser fee scrapped

The Onion browser for iOS, which encrypts and sends web traffic through the Tor network, is now free. Its developer, Mike Tigas, said in a blog post that he was dropping the 99c price because “many believe it’s more important than ever to exercise and support freedom of speech, privacy rights and digital security”.

Tigas says that the cost was initially set to cover his annual $100 Apple Developer membership fee, even though the source code has always been freely available.

However, as he notes, “selling an app inherently puts up a barrier to user adoption” and so he’s moved to a Patreon page to encourage people to support him directly.

Of course, the Onion browser is free, and freely available, for other platforms include Android, and it’s certainly easier to install it on other platforms without having to go via an official app store that has your ID tied to it via a credit card.

Bank bans WhatsApp from company phones

Deutsche Bank has banned the use of WhatsApp as well as text messages and other communication apps such as Facebook and iMessage on company phones as part of a drive to improve its compliance standards.

The move, announced in an email to staff last week, is in response to reputation-damaging investigations into the sale of toxic debt and the alleged manipulation of interest-rate benchmarks. In December, a trader was suspended after asking a trading counterparty to join a WhatsApp group to talk about interest rates.

The rise of messaging platforms outwith banks’ own infrastructure is a challenge to compliance teams as EU banking regulations including MiFID II that require much closer monitoring and disclosure around trading and markets mean that banks will have to keep much closer tabs on what their employees are saying.

Catch up with all of today’s stories on Naked Security