LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman to Offer $250,000 Prize For 'Disobedience'

Entrepreneurs could win $ 250,000 from famed LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman for innovation that seeks to right society’s wrongs. 

Hoffman announced plans to offer the so-called “Disobedience” award while speaking Thursday at a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The “Forbidden Research” symposium, held by M.I.T.’s Media Lab, brought together scientists, activists and inventors to discuss experimental research to promote justice in the U.S. and abroad.

The award “will go to a person or group engaged in what we believe is excellent disobedience for the benefit of society,” said Joi Ito, the director of the M.I.T. Media Lab, in a blog post on Thursday. Ito did not immediately return a phone call from Inc. requesting comment.

One contender for the prize is Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency worker, who joined the conference via video connection from Russia, where he now lives in exile. Snowden said he’s developing a safer iPhone for journalists working in dangerous parts of the world, which would detect electronic surveillance from third parties.

The move suggests that Snowden, who first rose to prominence in 2013 when he leaked classified NSA documents revealing global government surveillance programs, could be dipping a toe in entrepreneurship. Snowden is working with Andrew Huang, a computer hacker otherwise known as “Bunnie,” to determine whether or not such a phone is feasible.

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