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Project Details

Photo of a Blackphone

Blackphone

A new super-secure consumer smartphone

By SGP Technologies

Project URL: blackphone.ch
Project Twitter: @Blackphone_ch

  • Mobile
  • Physical Computing

Blackphone is a mass-market phone equipped with the sort of privacy settings hitherto only available to industry and government. It encrypts texts and phone calls and anonymises web browsing — and gives you total control over the exact level of access each app has to data on your phone.

It has a 4.7 inch screen, quick processor, and lots of memory.  As Tech Radar put it: ‘security just got sexy.’ Sexy maybe, but it’s still at the pricey end of the spectrum, at £377. Few seem to have been put off by the RRP however: the first batch of Blackphones, shipped in June 2014, sold out.

Founder Toby Weir-Jones wants his company, a joint venture of encryption software specialist Silent Circle and open hardware group Geeksphone, to pioneer the development of affordable products and services for the post-Snowden era. ‘We think consumers deserve the same security as companies,’ he says. ‘Privacy should be routine, accessible and absolutely unremarkable. We want to create a culture in which it’s ok to ask for it. So we need you to complain when it’s taken from you. Complain [for instance], when someone says only your social security number can be used to track your personal records in some other database.’

Blackphone was designed to meet the privacy concerns of everyone from a stockbroker with sensitive market information to an activist in a conflict zone: protecting ‘virtual private networks’ from malware and defending against spyware and ad trackers.

Raising the device’s profile recently was a very public spat with BlackBerry, who argued that its own end-to-end approach was the only way to truly guarantee security. Blackphone hit back by flagging the occasion when RIM made it possible for Saudi, UAE and India to view customers’ communications.

Blackphone’s peer-to-peer systems make it technically impossible for it to surrender customer data in this fashion, even if it wasn’t antithetical to the company’s ethics. For all Blackphone’s communiqués to be truly eavesdrop-proof, however, both recipient and sender need to run SilentCircle. As one reviewer says, ‘Only the paranoid survive.’

Image 'Blackphone' courtesy of Tecnomovida Caracas

Last updated: 21st of July, 2014

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