• Intro

    COVER ME positions Creative Commons licensed photographs found on Flickr as data containers for distributing clandestine Snowden files 'in plain sight', both on and offline.

    Using a method known as as steganography, the volatile data is embedded into images matching 'island getaway' and 'beach paradise', a comforting counter-balance to the bleakness and anxiety enshrouding the NSA and GCHQ leaks.

    Referred to by computer scientists as a 'cover file', the photograph containing the data payload is not visibly altered, allowing for it to be distributed as tasteful work-and-family-safe material, used as desktop backgrounds or uploaded back to Flickr. At any given point along its journey leaks can be conveniently and privately extracted from images onto a personal computer, using a simple, cross-platform program.


    A simple decoder was written in Python for GNU/Linux and OS X systems leveraging Python Stepic and Tkinter. The OS X version looks like this:

    Use it to extract the Snowden documents from the above PNG images. Developed on Debian GNU/Linux, it should run on a modern Linux distribution and Mac OS X.

    Download the ZIP file here.

    Check it has the correct sha256sum by typing the following in a terminal.

    $ sha256sum COVER-ME.zip
    86963baa027a741cc321140cda7e7a8e4ccb5dfb4b08237e14b1269192dcc598  COVER-ME.zip

    Unzip and double-click on decode.py to run the application. Alternatively, start it in a terminal program like so:

    $ python decode.py

    Now use the file dialog to select the PNG image you downloaded or received to extract the leak.