Despite reports that call into question the effectiveness of the NSA's bulk surveillance of the American public, the government isn't likely to quit the snooping business anytime soon. Whether you've got something to hide or simply value your privacy, chances are you'd appreciate a simple handset that allows you to duck out from under the surveillance blanket.
The folks at Silent Circle, who ran a secure email service until last summer, have teamed up with Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone to offer a smartphone that is at once secure and modern. Dubbed "Blackphone," the device runs on a "security-oriented" PrivatOS based on Android. Users will be able to download their favorite apps, place calls, text and video chat — with the security that some amorphous government entity isn't looking over their shoulder. You'll even be able to keep your activity anonymous through your own VPN.
Blackphone, its collaborative creators promise, does not and will not have any under-the-table deals in place with vendors or carriers. So not only is the handset secure, but the company behind it won't sell your user info out either. The Blackphone handset also arrives unlocked and capable of connecting to any GSM carrier. Notable networks that don't run GSM in the U.S. include Verizon and Sprint (they operate on CDMA), so do be conscious of which service you're using when considering a Blackphone of your own.
The makers of Blackphone do mention that the security of your smartphone rests in your hands. While it may be nice to think that they mean their smartphone will take care of your every whim in total secrecy, chances are they actually mean that you should take care not to use it improperly. Calling or emailing a person whose devices are less secure, for instance, will still out you, since you'll show up on their call history and NSA-recorded calls. Blackphone will begin taking pre-orders at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 2.