January 16, 2014
For Your Eyes Only: World’s First Secure Smartphone Puts Privacy First
Bryan P. Carpender for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
This just in: smartphones are everywhere. As people rely more and more on their mobile phone as the essential device to have with them at all times, they are also now carrying around a great deal of sensitive information. Privacy and protecting that personal data has become a major concern. Curiously, there hasn’t been a smartphone designed specifically with that in mind – until now. Get ready for the Blackphone.
Positioning itself as the world’s first smartphone to place a premium on privacy, Blackphone is the product of a new Switzerland-based joint venture between Geeksphone and Silent Circle. It’s a truly international collaboration with an interesting and eclectic pedigree.
Geeksphone is a Spanish company specializing in the development and promotion of “open source” mobile telephony solutions. In addition to being the first European brand to launch an Android smartphone back in 2009, Geeksphone also launched with world’s first Firefox OS-powered smartphone in 2013.
Silent Circle is a global communications service based in Washington, D.C. founded by a former Navy SEAL and two tech execs and Internet encryption experts. It specializes in encrypted voice, video, text and file transfer on mobile devices using its proprietary network, software and apps.
A SYNERGISTIC PARTNERSHIP
What the partnership between these two companies has produced is more than a phone with a name that evokes the Jason Bourne saga; it’s a carrier and vendor-independent smartphone.
Blackphone comes unlocked and works with any GSM carrier – something that really sets it apart from other handsets. Plus, it’s powered by PrivatOS, a security-oriented Android operating system that gives individuals and organizations the ability to communicate securely. A user can make phone calls, exchange texts, transfer and store files and even video chat – all without compromising the user’s privacy.
This partnership appears to be a perfect fit, with synergy coursing through the veins of its leadership, as evidenced by their individual statements.
“Blackphone is an international project with contributors from all over the world. We believe in freedom and innovation. Above all, we believe in neutrality,” said Rodrigo Silva-Ramos, Blackphone Co-founder and Geeksphone Chairman. “The Blackphone project is a marriage between innovation and style. Innovation rests at the heart of our brand and style is very important. Nowadays, a mobile phone is a mark of identity."
Mike Janke, Blackphone Co-founder and Silent Circle CEO sums it up in this sound bite: “It’s a journey built upon privacy, control and security, wrapped in a high-end smartphone and built by a very innovative all-star team of cryptographers, security and mobile innovators.”
WHERE SECURITY AND DESIGN INTERSECT
Blackphone won’t be something totally foreign, since it runs a privacy-pimped-out version of Android, meaning users will find it instantly familiar and easy to navigate.
Regarding the PrivatOS, Javier Agüera, Blackphone’s Co-founder and Geeksphone CEO explains, “PrivatOS is the Android you are familiar with which includes all of the available apps with an additional security measure that allows for encrypted messages and the extra level of privacy which users are demanding in the market.”
“Blackphone is designed so that when you use it, you get the best privacy you would get on any mobile phone. It’s configured, set up and modified so that the privacy aspects of it are all melded together from the security parts of the CPU to the hardware of the phone to the operating system and apps so that everything you do is private,” explains Jon Callas, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer of Silent Circle.
This may prove to be a major selling point to privacy advocates and consumers alike, many of whom have grown weary of constant intrusions from mobile carriers, advertisers – even government agencies.
Blackphone will be formally launched at February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with pre-orders beginning shortly thereafter. In the meantime, you can visit their site for more information and sign up to receive updates as they become available.
No word yet on whether those email updates will be encrypted.