J. D. Heyes
January 19, 2014
With so much spying being conducted not just in the United States but worldwide by the National Security Agency, it was only a matter of time before some company developed a product capable of operating beyond its reach.
A couple of Swiss-based firms – Silent Circle and Geeksphone – in a joint venture have developed a yet-to-be released smartphone that “aims to put privacy in your hands, protecting you from anyone wanting to snoop into your private data – even the NSA,” says a write-up by Mashable.
The phone, called the Blackphone, is part of a project backed by a number of important figures in the field of computer security. That list includes Phil Zimmerman, creator of the data encryption protocol PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). Remember that?
‘Blackphone provides users with everything they need for privacy’
As reported by Mashable:
Blackphone is powered by a “security-oriented” Android build called PrivatOS. It’s carrier- and vendor-independent, and enables users to make and receive secure phone calls and video chats, exchange secure texts as well as transfer and store files.
The precise specifications of the phone have yet to be published, but Mike Janke, the CEO of Silent Circle, has claimed that the device will be a “high end” smartphone.
But the thing is, the specs are not the primary purpose behind the phone; lots of smartphones have wonderful applications and capability. Rather, the developing firms note, Blackphone’s appeal is its ability to protect users’ privacy, notes 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,” he said.
More from tech site Mashable:
The two companies behind the project make an interesting match. Silent Circle is a U.S.-based company focused on encryption; Geeksphone is a Spanish company behind Firefox OS developer devices.
The Blackphone is scheduled to be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 24.
In an interview with Mashable, Janke said the project will be “open source all the way,” confirming that the Android operating system build that the device will run will also be open source.
“It may take us a few months to put it all out there, but it will be,” he said, adding that further details regarding the project would not be released until the phone is actually launched. There are also no details yet on how much the device will cost.
The NSA is to blame for Blackphone
No doubt the Blackphone, if proven adept at avoiding NSA snooping, will strike a chord worldwide – but especially in the U.S., where Americans value their privacy and are generally suspicious of the NSA’s activities.
What is equally clear is that, if the phone works as advertised, the NSA – as well as intelligence agencies in other governments – will become concerned that the devices will be picked up and widely utilized by criminals and terrorists, which will make their job of legitimate intelligence-gathering much more difficult.
But whose fault is that? It’s the NSA’s fault, of course.
If the agency hadn’t gone rogue – soaking up every scrap of electronic data it could gather, at the behest of successive U.S. administrations and the U.S. Congress – then the need for such a product, just for ordinary citizens hoping to keep private conservations private, would not exist.
There is no market for a super-secret privacy device without a need.
What’s worse, the massive domestic and global spying conducted by the NSA has not even been effective, according to a White House panel. As reported by NBC News:
A member of the White House review panel on NSA surveillance said he was “absolutely” surprised when he discovered the agency’s lack of evidence that the bulk collection of telephone call records had thwarted any terrorist attacks.
“It was, ‘Huh, hello? What are we doing here?’” said Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor, in an interview with NBC News. “The results were very thin.”
This article was posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 7:22 am