New Blackphone aims to quash surveillance threat

Developed by security experts including those from Silent Circle, the Android-powered Blackphone is designed to make snooping far more difficult.

Charlie Osborne Contributing Writer
Charlie Osborne is a cybersecurity journalist and photographer who writes for ZDNet and CNET from London. PGP Key: AF40821B.
Charlie Osborne
2 min read
The Blackphone: It's where style meets privacy, backers say. Blackphone/Screenshot by CNET

A new Android-powered smartphone soon to be launched will put privacy and control directly in the hands of its users.

On Wednesday, Silent Circle and Geeksphone announced the formation of a new Switzerland-based joint venture and its first surveillance-thwarting product, the Blackphone.

Powered by a security-oriented Android build named PrivatOS, Blackphone is touted as a carrier and vendor-independent smartphone that will allow consumers and businesses to make and receive secure phone calls, exchange secure texts, transfer and store files, and video chat without compromising privacy on the device.

The smartphone is the brainchild of security and technology specialists including Phil Zimmermann, creator of PGP; Javier Aguera, co-founder of Geeksphone; Jon Callas, co-founder of PGP Inc. and CTO of Silent Circle; Rodrigo Silva-Ramos, co-founder of Geeksphone; and Mike Janke, CEO of Silent Circle and former U.S. Navy SEAL.

"I have spent my whole career working towards the launch of secure telephony products," said Zimmermann. "Blackphone provides users with everything they need to ensure privacy and control of their communications, along with all the other high-end smartphone features they have come to expect."

Blackphone will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain, and preorders will be taken at the end of February. There are no current details available on the gadget's price.

Geeksphone is a Madrid-based firm that develops and promotes open source mobile solution. Washington, D.C.-based Silent Circle is a global encrypted communications service well-known for providing secure e-mail service Silent Mail, before the founders chose to shutter the service in light of US agency spying revelations.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline "Blackphone: A smartphone designed to stop spying eyes."