In an age of stories like the NSA spying scandal and Snapchat’s recent hacking, true mobile privacy seems impossible to come by. But one encryption company claims to have the answer.
Blackphone is a snoop-free smartphone announced by a pair of companies specializing in encryption. Founder Phil Zimmermann is a well-known cryptographer who also founded an encryption company called Silent Circle.
Zimmerman’s company joined forces with Spanish telephony startup Geeksphone to collaborate on hardware for a private Android operating system, which they named “PrivatOS.” According to the product’s introduction video, PrivatOS holds all of the same available apps as Android but includes an “additional security measure for encrypted messages.”
The companies claim Blackphone allows secure calls and texts. “You can exchange and store secure files; have secure video chat; browse privately; and anonymize your activity through a VPN,” the website states. But it seems as if concealed content such as texts would likely require all parties to have a Blackphone for it to work.
Zimmermann, who specializes in secure text messaging, says he’s been waiting for technology to catch up with his ideas of privacy technology. “The No. 1 priority is to uphold the objectives of privacy, not to serve some business model of monetizing customer data,” Zimmerman says in the video. “We’re trying to create a smartphone whose whole purpose is to protect privacy.”
Blackphone’s creators don’t deny storing any data, instead claiming to only store the bare minimum of information. “Blackphone stores minimal detail from its web server and other logs,” the website states. “We delete logs as soon as reasonably possible. We turn the logging level on our systems to log only protocol-related errors. Our goal is to have nothing to turn over or disclose to any third party.”
Still, the critical public is going to need more assurance that it does, in fact, give them hack-proof safety. It’s unclear about how the company is going to achieve this, but based on Zimmerman’s reputation it could be a good bet. Blackphone will be available for pre-order on February 24.