The Blackphone is the first personal communication device to bring privacy and security to the mass-market. Born through a joint venture between secure communication company Silent Circle and specialist smartphone manufacturer Geeksphone. The device’s hardware is not particularly interesting – a 4.7″ IPS display hiding a 2GHz quad core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard memory and an 8MP rear camera. Like all the other players in the smartphone space after 2010 what sets the Blackphone apart is the software.
Running a forked version of Android dubbed PrivatOS, Blackphone protects your identity, your personal communication and files by bundling in a suite of apps that work to block snooping eyes. First up is Silent Circle. Silent Circle provides peer-to-peer connections for voice and video calls, text messages and file transfers that are encrypted end-to-end between you and your contacts. Silent Circle also makes it impossible to log or farm any of the data generated through these activities. And you can be sure that there is no back-door for the NSA to sneak through.
Next up is Disconnect. Founded by a former Google and DoubleClick engineer, this smart filter augments the Blackphone browser to protect your identity from advertising-, analytics- and social widgets. Inside knowledge of the way that websites extract personal data makes it possible for Disconnect to visualise the real-time requests made when browsing from this device. Disconnect even encrypts the data that you decide to share with a website.
Then there’s SpiderOak, a Zero-Knowledge DropBox-like service that let’s you sync, backup and share files privately. This privacy comes from how SpiderOak’s software was architected. Files are encrypted before being uploaded to the SpiderOak server. Once uploaded, the files remain encrypted on the server. That’s not all, your password along with the encryption key for your files are themselves encrypted making it even more secure from unscrupulous agents – Government or otherwise.
Kismet’s Smart Wi-Fi Manager is also bundled on the device. Kismet provides a number of smart features that save battery and increase quality when playing audio across Bluetooth. It’s most relevant features for the Blackphone, however, prevent your device from automatically jumping onto untrustworthy Wi-Fi access points and protect you from Wi-Fi snoop attacks.
This is but a brief rundown of the Blackphone (never mind the Security Centre, Activation Wizard and Remote Wipe features that are specifically built for the device). While a number of these apps are available for other smartphones, the Blackphone is the first direct-to-consumer solution aimed at protecting user data straight out of the box. This shows a unique understanding of the forces that are affecting people in their daily lives and it provides a new approach in tackling these forces for the betterment of how these people live. This makes it the most innovative piece of technology to come out of Mobile World Congress in years.