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Finally: An Off-The-Grid Smartphone That Protects Privacy

blackphone geekphone privacy hackersWith today’s reality of NSA spying and corporate snooping, a new smartphone seeks to shield users’ data from prying eyes.

Mike Janke, a former Navy SEAL sniper, founded an Android-based smartphone called Blackphone, which guards privacy – credit card information, contact lists, emails — in ways typical smartphones don’t.

Blackphone automatically blocks apps from mining your data unless you choose to allow it, and unlike other phones, doesn’t talk to “beacons” in public places to track where you’ve been and make you offers.

“What Blackphone does, it’ll automatically stop that beacon activity, shut off any Wi-Fi pinging to protect you from those type of stalking things,” Janke told NPR.

Blackphone even stores user data in a secure vault in Switzerland.

“What we’re trying to do is make a smartphone whose whole purpose is to protect user’s privacy,” said Phil Zimmerman, Blackphone co-president.

On its website, Blackphone advertises the benefit for consumers: “Make your own choices and regain the ability to keep your life private. Now only you will decide what to publish, what to share, and what to keep entirely to yourself.”

The phone, Janke said, is not designed for criminals, as critics have suggested.

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“Blackphone is meant for people from all walks of life who are concerned with privacy,” Janke told the Guardian newspaper. “It can be normal users from the street, or politicians or whatever.”

But Blackphone is by no means the only secure smartphone in the world. According to NPR, Boeing is creating an ultra-secure phone that even self-destructs if tampered with. That, though, will only be for defense contractors.

“Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable,” Boeing said in an FCC filing regarding the phone, which it simply calls Black.

Blackphone, though, is the only similar phone that will be available to the public.

The phone will allow anonymous Internet tracking by using a VPN.

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“When you click here [to activate Disconnect] everything you do on the Internet goes through a VPN and that affects all the applications on your phone. And we don’t have to root your device or anything, it’s already there. And it’s already enabled for all the applications you will install.” Geeksphone CEO Javier Aguera told TechCrunch.com. Geeksphone owns Blackphone “What this VPN does is it removes all the crap that the websites put — all the advertising, all the tracking cookies, and it’s faster than a normal connection.”

Blackphone plans to start shipping this summer and will sell for $629.

Users don’t even have to give the company their real name, Aguera said.

“We keep your nickname [username], which is not your real name unless you want to, and that’s the only information we will ever have about you,” he said. “If you ordered online or in a shop we will have your shipping details but once we give those to the shipping company we delete that data.”

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