FreedomPop 'Snowden Phone' Is Latest Pro Privacy Effort

 
 
By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-03-05
 
 
 

The FreedomPop Privacy Phone, or the "Snowden Phone," as FreedomPop has nicknamed it, is the latest mobile industry effort to offer customers ensured privacy.

The phone runs on FreedomPop's voice over IP (VoIP) network and encrypts each voice packet so they're untraceable, says the carrier. Additionally, all application and Internet data is sent through a secure, encrypted virtual private network (VPN).

Users can also change their phone numbers as often as they like, and for added anonymity, the phone can be purchased via Bitcoin.

"In light of recent violations in consumer's privacy across social networks and mobile devices, privacy is becoming increasingly important to many Americans and we all have a right to communicate anonymously," FreedomPop COO Steven Sesar said in a March 5 statement.

"Large carriers don't have the flexibility, desire or creativity to invest in privacy," Sesar added. "In fact, some companies have been compensated for handing over consumer's data. We don't agree with this approach and felt it was up to us to create a truly private mobile phone service at an affordable price."

The New York Times reported in November that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pays AT&T more than $10 million a year for assisting its "overseas counterterrorism investigations," and Wired reported March 3 that the Obama administration is suing Sprint for overcharging it by more than $21 million in "wiretapping expenses." 

FreedomPop runs on the Sprint network, offering services based on a freemium model.

It introduced itself to consumers in late 2012 with a wireless home modem, offering free limited access and tiered pricing for greater access. In October 2013, it graduated to mobile phone service, offering 500MB of data, 500 text messages and 200 anytime minutes "free every month for life" and without a contract. For $10.99 a month, users can purchase unlimited voice and texting.

"FreedomPop's mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, convenient and essential communication services," FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said in a statement at the time.

Introducing the Privacy Phone, FreedomPop described itself as offering "disruptive mobile services" that ensure "no one is left off the 'connected grid.'"

The Privacy Phone is a tricked-out Samsung Galaxy S II. Like banks and government agencies, it relies on 128-bit encryption. According to FreedomPop, it also enables anonymous Internet browsing, prevents online marketers from tracking Web activity, blocks data monitoring and eavesdropping from third parties, and can bypass Website restrictions and "connect to any site online."

Still additionally, it protects users from viruses and malware, keeps call history and other information confidential, blocks unsolicited calls and texts, and blocks malicious and phishing Websites.

The phone is priced at $189. Users will receive 500MB of data and unlimited voice and text free for three months, and then pay $10 a month after that.

Last week, Boeing introduced the Black phone, an Android-running device with embedded FIPS 140-2 key storage, support for trusted modules and "layers of trust from embedded hardware, operating system policy controls and compatibility with leading mobile-device management systems."

Silent Circle and Geeksphone also introduced the Blackphone, an Android-running smartphone said to feature a "unique combination of application tools which offer unparalleled security and privacy to information workers, executives, public figures [and] anyone else unwilling to cede ownership of their privacy to other authorities."

 

 

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