A Highly Encrypted Smartphone Security 'Blackphone' On The Card

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Technology firm Silent Circle are set to release a highly encrypted ‘Blackphone’ said to thwart spying.
 A new fully encrypted smartphone aims to foil snooping governments, according to industry rivals and hackers.

It’s also a sleek, attractive device that fits in your pocket and can impress friends and colleagues, say its makers.

The Blackphone is set to be released next month by the secure communications firm Silent Circle and the small Spanish-based manufacturer GeeksPhone, amid a fever pitch of concern over revelations about vast US surveillance of data and telephony.

But Silent Circle chief executive Mike Janke said his company was working on the handset even before last year’s revelations about the wide-ranging US National Security Agency programs, leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.

“We did this because there was a problem that was not being solved: secure communications,” Janke said.

“We offer completely encrypted, peer-to-peer communications. We have encrypted video, encrypted text and secure VoIP (Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) calls,” Janke said.

The company declined to release detailed specifications or pricing ahead of the unveiling, but Janke said it will be sold around the world at prices lower than the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4.

“It’s sexy, it’s thin, it’s sleek, but it also solves a problem,” Janke said.

“You can still go to Google and browse the web, but Google doesn’t know who you are. It’s a high-end smartphone. The user doesn’t have to know how to use or how to spell encryption.”

As an added assurance to customers, the Blackphone venture is incorporated in Switzerland with a Swiss data center and has “minimal data retention”.

“All we have is the user name you give us and a 10-digit phone number,” he said.

Even if the company faced a court order in Switzerland, it could only hand over the user name. Authorities seeking more information would need to subpoena a separate payment processing firm “and try to match that to our users”, Janke said.

“There is no such thing as a completely secure phone,” he said. “Nothing is going to protect you from your own behavior. But out of the box, this phone does a lot of things to protect your privacy.”

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