Blackphone Spearheads Privacy-Minded Telephony

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Silent Circle and GeeksPhone kick started pre-orders for the cutting-edge Blackphone, a smartphone that “puts privacy and security ahead of everything else.” The handy device is not quite immune to National Security Agency (NSA) snooping, but founders think it's in the cards.

The specs are decent, but privacy is the device's main selling point. TechCrunch gives a run-down of the apps:

The privacy tools include Silent Circle’s apps, which include Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Contact for secure, private handling of each of those features via encryption so that only you and someone receiving said communications with a compatible device can access the contents. There’s also a Wi-Fi connection manager for greater security on public networks, and a software that makes it possible to securely remote-wipe your device, and facilitate its recovery.

The base price is $629. It's unclear whether consumers will be willing to pay such high premiums for these features. 

Blackphone lets users choose their level of privacy. But it isn't NSA-proof. Blackphone Mike Janke co-founder told CBS, “There’s nothing in the world today that’s NSA proof, other than taking a phone and throwing it in the Potomac.”

But they're working on it. “The Blackphone is just the beginning of the conversation,” Blackphone president Philip Zimmermann told ExtremeTech. Zimmermann is creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the email encryption software, and is a well-respected privacy advocate. Secure telephony is merely Zimmermann's latest undertaking.

Janke says, "What we're doing is absolutely shaking up this system." Journalists, human rights activists, whistle-blowers, and privacy-minded individuals have all benefited from privacy tools like Internet Relay Chat (IRC), PGP, and Tor. Blackphone extends privacy's reach to phones.

With the ushering in of an international surveillance state and data-gathering technologies like the Internet of Things (the Internet will be embedded in objects like automobiles, kitchen equipment, biochips in animals) on the horizon, privacy-driven technologies deserve a spot in the future communications market. 

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I want one! (Does it come with Angry Birds preinstalled?)

  • waffles||

    Ban it! Just so Fist can't have it first.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I wonder if it comes in anything but black.

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    I've been Duracoating my kids' cellphone shells for years. They can have practically any color they liked, from Barney Purple to Wild Yellow. Gotta love something that they think is cool and actually increases the cellphone's durability a bit.

    http://www.houtsenterprises.ne.....olors.html

  • Paul.||

    Hmm, I'll have to duracoat my tot's AR15. She's so cute when she takes it to school.

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    So... the boys don't pick on her?

  • playa manhattan||

    Harry Reid has really lost his shit.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....83449.html

    That is all.

  • ||

    Wow. Every bad thing ever said about Obamacare is a lie made up by the Koch brothers. I knew it.

  • Jordan||

    Damn Wreckers and Kulaks.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Reality and a couple hundred million Americans are clearly in collusion.

  • Rich||

    "I don't believe America is for sale. We'll see, Mr. President."

    Yeah, there may be a fire sale in the not-too-distant future.

  • Ted S.||

    Was the site just down for about five minutes?

  • playa manhattan||

    Ask NSA Corey.

  • Paul.||

    I'd rather ask TSA Bob.

  • ||

    For me, yes.

  • Ted S.||

    So at least it wasn't just something on my end.

    It's probably H&R testing more shit for people using the fondle-screen version.

  • playa manhattan||

    I had a blank page. No idea how long though.

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    Main home page is still blank. I sent them an email a while ago.

  • ||

    So, if you advertise that the NSA cant listen to you they totally wont put you under a microscope until they figure out how to listen to you.

  • playa manhattan||

    Now they know who to target. Blackphone: the most tapped cell phone ever.

  • Kaerie||

    IRC a "privacy tool"? Pretty sure it's at least as vulnerable as email, and perhaps more-so at the server side.

  • Sigivald||

    I was gonna say ...

    But on the other hand, there is encrypted IRC [client to client, not requiring server-side support], and of course, one can run one's own IRC server.

    It's less vulnerable than email in one sense, even when not encrypted - it's ephemeral; nothing is stored for delivery or later reading.

  • Paul.||

    it's ephemeral; nothing is stored for delivery or later reading.

    But it can be.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I'll make sure to buy my blackphone with my bitcoin.

  • Almanian!||

    What the FUCK does this have to do with Arizona's law about teh gaiz??

    Jeebus H Fuck Me - can we stay on point re: the important topics of the day?

    THANK YOU

  • playa manhattan||

    Facebook has what you seek today.

  • jdgalt||

    You're in the wrong thread, Fred.

  • SugarFree||

    Anyone that doesn't want Barack Obama listening to their phone calls and reading their emails and texts are just racists. Flat out, straight up racists.

  • tarran||

    Even the guy banging Michelle behind Barry's back?!? Is he a racist too?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Joe Biden? Naww he's down with the brown.

  • SugarFree||

    Guy?

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Valerie Jarret.

  • SugarFree||

    Is that the burn victim that works in the White House? So brave to go back to work after such a horrific accident.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Make a Wish is a helluva organization

  • playa manhattan||

    This is why I love this place. So many zingers in a row.

  • Invisible Finger||

    The base price is $629. It's unclear whether consumers will be willing to pay such high premiums for these features.

    Consumers already pay higher prices for smart phones. That $99 phone you got required a two-year agreement which essentially means you took out a two-year mortgage for your phone with a $99 down payment. Compare to buying a phone outright and getting monthly service for half the price the two-year agreement suckers are paying.

  • ||

    Can I get this in Bondi blue?

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    Custom-match DuraCoat...

  • Paul.||

    If Phil Zimmerman is behind it, I have a reasonable amount of faith in it.

  • Brendan||

    It'd be nice for a cell phone maker to include public key encryption for each phone. Let the users decide how to disseminate their public key and how they accept others' keys.

    I'd love a system that let you exchange public keys via NFC. One could choose to only exchange keys on demand via NFC and reject any call supposedly initiated from that person with a different/no key.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    ya. why the fuck doesn't that already exist?

  • Vampire||

    Because I bit the creator of it. (~_~) I said I'm sorry already damn it.

  • Stilgar||

    I read a book ..over 5 years ago, dont have the title.. where a large part of the story was the Saudis buying phones with supposedly unbreakable crypto - but in fact the phones were cleverly sabotaged by our favorite three letter friends.

    Even a full disassembly of this new phone would not be able to prove it is not hacked in hardware (let alone firmware). It is not that hard to copy an existing IC's logic into an FPGA, modify or add to it and then reproduce the IC with the same package and same labeling.

    Paranoia is your best and only friend.

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    I felt like I was back watching Alias with my little girl. Was there lot's of Eurotrash music and a women screaming "What was wrong with the black?"

  • ||

    The privacy tools include Silent Circle’s apps, which include Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Contact for secure, private handling of each of those features via encryption so that only you and someone receiving said communications with a compatible device can access the contents. There’s also a Wi-Fi connection manager for greater security on public networks, and a software that makes it possible to securely remote-wipe your device, and facilitate its recovery.

    Not sure there's much offered there that I can't already get for a standard Android phone. I use TextSecure and RedPhone, and you can already remotely wipe using built-in Android software. Not sure what the wifi tool they mention actually does. I support the project, just seems more gimmicky than actually innovative.

  • ||

    Not to mention the all the other Tor and encryption apps available from The Guardian Project.

  • jdgalt||

    Something tells me that none of the carriers that have sold us out to date will allow this phone to be used on their networks.

    It's time to push once more for a "cellular Carterfone law" (to limit carriers' control of your phone to just the parts that affect network security, so they can't keep you from having other features you want).

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