BARCELONA: Secure communications provider Silent Circle has unveiled the specifications of its Blackphone, claiming the privacy-focused Android smartphone will let users regain control of their personal data in the post-PRISM world.
The Blackphone is available for pre-order now, costing $629 and is expected to ship in June.
Blackphone managing director Toby Weir-Jones discussed the smartphone at a Mobile World Congress (MWC) keynote, confirming that it is designed to stop companies and government departments snooping through user data.
He said: "We're moving to end the commercial model around user data. We're providing anonymous search that is enabled by default and a number of other services that stop companies creating a behavioural profile. We want to end the monetisation of user data."
The Blackphone was unveiled by Silent Circle and hardware company Geeksphone in January and is designed to be the ultimate secure communications tool.
The Blackphone runs using a radically altered version of Android, codenamed PrivatOS. The operating system integrates Silent Circle's Silent Text, Silent Phone, Silent Contacts and Silent Keys, services directly into it.
The custom tools are designed to let users securely make and receive phone calls, exchange texts, transfer and store files and video chat, without fear that their activities are being monitored or recorded.
The tools work by setting up a secure line of communication between phones with the applications installed. The lines are encrypted using a self-generating and deleting encryption key that is never stored on the phone or by Silent Circle.
Silent Circle's president Phil Zimmermann (pictured) claims this makes communications on the Blackphone close to impossible to monitor.
"Unlike regular phones that are tied to service providers, there are no keys for people to get, we don't store them," he explained. "Even if a government or Chinese hacker gets into the systems they won't get any keys from us."
The technology does not work on communications between a Blackphone and regular phone without Silent Circle services. To get round this the Blackphone will come bundled with three complementary one-year subscriptions to Silent Circle services that can be shared with friends, families or co-workers.
The handset will also come bundled with the Kismet Smart WiFi Manager and two-year-long access to Disconnect VPN and SpiderOak encrypted storage.
The prototype Blackphone displayed at MWC came loaded with a powerful unspecified 2GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 4.7in HD in-plane switching (IPS) display, an 8MP rear camera and 16GB of internal storage.
Jones said he expects the combination of top-end components and robust security software to be a key selling point in a variety of markets. "The Blackphone is for any privacy-conscious individual. Be they an executive concerned about secure communication or a privacy-focused individual," he said.
Check back with V3 later this year for a full review of the Blackphone.
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