updated 11:44 am EST, Wed March 5, 2014
Privacy-oriented offering from FreedomPop adds protection to
FreedomPop is entering the secure smartphone market, with the launch of the Privacy Phone. Just like the Boeing Black and the Blackphone from Silent Circle and Geeksphone, the Privacy Phone boasts a number of security features not typically offered in normal smartphones, such as 128-bit encryption of voice calls and text messages, as well filtering data traffic via a virtual private network (VPN) before reaching the Internet itself.
The smartphone being used is a retooled Samsung Galaxy S II updated to run Android Jelly Bean, rather than creating a new device specifically for the purpose, such as with Boeing and Geeksphone. This gives users a 4.3-inch display with a 1.2GHz processor, 16GB of storage, and an 8-megapixel camera. The choice of handset does allow it to be offered at $189 without a contract, and is supplied with three months of unlimited voice and text service, and 500MB of data. Afterwards, the service will cost $10 per month.
FreedomPop Privacy Phone
While seemingly more secure than a typical phone service, it is unclear how much more secure it actually is. CNET writes that FreedomPop is accepting payments for the Privacy Phone in bitcoin and also calls the device the "Snowden phone" as a nickname, which suggests that the carrier is banking on the ongoing surveillance revelations in order to make sales on a cheap product. Despite this, the carrier appears to be serious about the extra security the Privacy Phone provides.
"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 the right to communicate anonymously," claimed FreedomPop CEO Steven Sesar. He justified the creation of the smartphone, as "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."