Obama ‘reforms’ NSA & Private smartphone to preview

President Obama is currently preparing a reform package in relation to the spying activities of his National Security Agency.  His aim is to legitimatise the NSA’s currently illegal spying programs, and protect them from future whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden.

Barack Obama

President Obama is set to unveil his erosion of freedom reform plans at the US Justice Department later in the week, so watch this space.

Some people may see it as a good job then, that smartphone producer Geeksphone have teamed up with the encryption boffins at Silent Circle to offer the Blackphone.  A new smartphone that boasts secure and encrypted communications and web browsing and has been described as:

The world’s first smartphone placing privacy and control directly in the hands of its usersblackphone

Blackphone is unlocked and works with any GSM carrier. Performance benchmarks put it among the top performers from any manufacturer.

It has the features necessary to do all the things you need, as well as all the things you want, while maintaining your privacy and security and giving you the freedom to choose your carrier, your apps, and your location.

The tools installed on Blackphone give you everything you need to take ownership of your mobile presence and digital footprints, and ensure nobody else can watch you without your knowledge.

You can make and receive secure phone calls; exchange secure texts; exchange and store secure files; have secure video chat; browse privately; and anonymize your activity through a VPN.

The phone is due to be previewed next month in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow. Phil Zimmerman the company’s co-founder and inventor of PGP said:

I have spent my whole career working towards the launch of secure telephony products. 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.

I’m on the fence with this one to be honest, whilst in principal the concept is good, there are a couple of caveats, Firstly is the nature of the encryption, in order for it to work, you must be connected to the user of another Blackphone, so if you don’t know anybody else that’s going to get one, its pretty much useless to you.  I’m also not so sure that people may want to purchase a product that begs the question “Do you have something to hide?”.

Its a tricky situation, Obama cannot go on to continue eroding personal freedoms unchecked, yet it seems that encrypted communications may not be the answer.  How secure can these encryptions be, when the NSA is already talking of quantum computers capable of smashing today’s greatest privacy techniques within minutes?

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