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Blackphone, the NSA Proof Smartphone

January 24, 2014

NSA spySmartphones are getting bigger and increasingly sophisticated, but an emerging tech company from Switzerland decided to take a different approach when it comes to smart devices.
Enter Blackphone, a one-of-a-kind smartphone, built for those of you who put privacy above everything else. Blackphone is marketed as being “NSA proof”, and that’s an interesting choice of words in my opinion.
I hope you heard about the NSA (National Security Agency) scandals lately, since the world-renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden disclosed the magnitude of snooping activities performed by the United States government against, well, everybody.
With so much spying around, it was only a matter of time until a tech company decided to start developing a device that can protect you from Big Brother&friends.
BlackphoneThat’s how the Blackphone project was born, a niche product, developed by a joint venture between two Swiss based companies: Silent Circle and Geekphone. Their purpose was to manufacture a smartphone that is capable of protecting the privacy of your data even from the NSA, world’s biggest intelligence agency. A bold statement, if you ask me.
That was not an easy task, by all means, and the Blackphone project was sponsored by heavy names in the field of IT security, like Phil Zimmerman, to name just one of them. If you don’t know who Phil Zimmerman is, well, he is the creator of the PGP encryption protocol. Now you get the general idea about what kind of people were involved in developing the Blackphone.
Blackphone is powered by a special Android OS build, namely PrivatOS, a very security oriented operating system. Being carrier/vendor independent, it can be used by anybody, anywhere, anytime. What makes PrivatOS different from any other mobile operating system is that it will enable encrypted communications between users, including voice calls, file transfers, video chats, and you name it.
Even if we don’t have (yet) the official specs sheet, the CEO of Silent Circle, Mike Janke claimed that the Blackphone will be a high end smartphone; so, good news for geeks everywhere.
That being said, it’s worth mentioning that having high end specs is not the primary purpose of the Blackphone, there are many other smartphones out there with impressive apps and capabilities. Blackphone is aimed at protecting user’s data privacy, according to Zimmerman:
“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,” end quote.

The companies involved in developing the Blackphone are pretty interesting themselves. Silent Circle is based in the US and its primary focus is on data encryption. Geeksphone is based in Spain and it works with Firefox OS developers.
It is expected that the Blackphone will be revealed at the Mobile World Congress, which is to be held in Barcelona, Spain, on February 24’th.

Silent Circle’s SEO, Mr.Mike Janke declared in an interview that the Android OS Build PrivatOS project will be open source “all the way”.

Part of the product’s source code is available for public scrutiny on GitHub and the company promised that in a few months, all the details will be made available to the general public. But, until the MWC, Blackphone will remain a mystery.
Blackphone no NSAAn interesting point to make is that if the Blackphone will work as advertised, the NSA and other intelligence agencies can start worrying, because an encrypted communication tool, available to everyone, could be used by terrorists and criminals worldwide, making NSA’s job (and others) a living nightmare.

But, whose fault is it for the Blackphone after all, if not NSA’s? Truth be told, if it wasn’t for their massive domestic/global spying, there would be no market for a super-secret mega privacy smartphone, don’t you think?

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