Designed to stop NSA spying, privacy-focussed Blackphone coming in February


As the mobile spying drama plays on and revelations courtesy Edward Snowden trickle in by the day, there’s a new smartphone in town that's designed to provide secure phone calls, messaging and browsing. While the video that accompanies the announcement of the phone is a bit too alarmist, there's a definite market for the kind of phone that Blackphone promises to be.

 

Aptly called Blackphone, the phone will be made by an eponymous company, which is a result of a joint venture between Silent Circle and Geeksphone. It is expected to be displayed at MWC next month and will go up for pre-order starting February 24. The company says the phone is designed to work like any other smartphone, but gives users control over privacy and security. Blackphone, the company says, is all about "giving you the freedom to choose your carrier, your apps, and your location."

 

Even though it is based on Android, the Blackphone runs a highly skinned fork of Android dubbed PrivatOS. The smartphone will be carrier and vendor independent, meaning it will be sold unlocked to give control to the user. One can not only make secure phone calls and send/receive data, but the device will ensure that the content stored on the phone is secure from snooping. There's nothing in the way of hardware specs, but that's anyway not the focus of the Blackphone.

 

Blackphone is the outcome of the efforts of several well-known industry faces including Javier Aguera and  Rodrigo Silva-Ramos of Geeksphone, Mike Janke of Silent Circle, and Phil Zimmermann and Jon Callas who founded encryption programme Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) and are currently in high-level roles at Silent Circle.  "I have spent my whole career working towards the launch of secure telephony products," said Zimmermann. "Blackphone provides users with everything they need to ensure privacy and control of their communications, along with all the other high-end smartphone features they have come to expect."

 

At the moment, there's very little specific information about what the phone will do, but those interested can sign up for mailers from the Blackphone site.


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