Edward Snowden has claimed that alien civilizations might be trying to communicate with us, but are prevented from doing so due to encryption used in nearly all digital communications.
In an interview with StarTalk podcast, Snowden says that the reason why we haven’t heard from alien civilizations is because their messages have been melding into the background static of the universe.
Here’s Snowden’s full answer, from the StarTalk podcast:
So if you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there’s only one small period in the development of their society when all of their communication will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means.
So when we think about everything that we’re hearing through our satellites or everything that they’re hearing from our civilization (if there are indeed aliens out there), all of their communications are encrypted by default.
So what we are hearing, that’s actually an alien television show or, you know, a phone call … is indistinguishable to us from cosmic microwave background radiation.
So it could be possible there are alien messages constantly hitting our satellites, and we just don’t recognize them because they’re so heavily encrypted. (The cosmic microwave background radiation that Snowden mentions is thermal radiation throughout the universe left over from the Big Bang. It basically looks and sounds like static to us puny humans.)
Of course, that’s assuming an alien civilization has the same security issues that we have here on Earth, and they need to worry about protecting their communication system from their alien governments, Tyson jokes.
Snowden agreed that aliens might be a little more politically sophisticated than us.