Meet the Privacy Phone, a device that FreedomPop brags is the only smartphone and mobile service that allows for encrypted communications. Lovingly nicknamed the “Snowden Phone” by FreedomPop, It can even be purchased with Bitcoin to further protect the owner’s anonymity. Simply put, if you’re in the market for a phone to plan to help run a criminal enterprise or serially leak ill-gotten government secrets, this is probably the phone for you.
Voice and text messages are reportedly locked down with 128-bit encryption. All application and Internet data will be sent through a secure encrypted virtual private network (VPN). And, if that’s not enough, owners can change the phone’s number anytime they want.
“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,” said Steven Sesar, COO at FreedomPop. “Large carriers don’t have the flexibility, desire or creativity to invest in privacy. 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 phone itself is a Samsung Galaxy II and costs $189. No contract. The phone comes with three months of unlimited voice and text, plus 500 MBs of data. After the three months, it’s $10 a month and payments can of course be made with Bitcoin through BitPay.
Encrypted wireless communication is nothing new. Emails sent through a BlackBerry Enterprise Server are encrypted. Several smartphone apps state that they can encrypt a phone’s voice calls and data services.
As Uncle Ben wisely put “With great power, comes great responsibility.” This FreedomPop device seems to offer unparalleled privacy from all sorts of intrusion. Will it be used by privacy-seeking patriots or a bad guys straight out of 24? Probably both. But that’s freedom.
As Stephen Stokols, CEO of FreedomPop, told me “like any new tech, it can be abused.”