Snowden Phone Aimed at Curbing Big Brother

by Matt Klassen on March 11, 2014

In a world where privacy concerns are paramount and unethical government surveillance and intrusion tactics are top of mind, cheeky American mobile carrier FreedomPop has decided to separate itself from the mobile pack, taking a decidedly counter-governmental stance with its new Privacy Phone–a device that has been nicknamed the “Snowden Phone”– a Samsung Galaxy S II that has been highly modified to make it exceptionally secure.

While no phone is absolutely secure—mostly because of those forgetful human users—the Snowden Phone is one of several recent releases that touts a next gen level of privacy features, features that allow users to communicate securely and anonymously, without the fear of Big Brother watching over their shoulder.

But the concern here is not FreedomPop’s laudable mission to create a phone that distinguishes its brand from the rest of the mobile pack, or its mission to create a phone that curbs the disturbing trend of intrusive and unethical government surveillance; instead the concern is regarding those who will actually use this phone, as its clearly a powerful tool that could be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.

While the company doesn’t actually advertise this device as “NSA-proof,” its clear FreedomPop has taken measures to protect users both threats both external and internal, meaning threats from hackers and malicious malware, and from user incompetence—often the real threat to user privacy.

As TechNewsWorld writer Richard Adhikari explains, “The Snowden Phone uses AES 128-bit encryption and runs communications through Voice over IP over virtual private networks. The VoIP feature enables voice transmission encryption and lets users bypass firewalls.”

Further, as FreedomPop spokesperson Tony Miller told TechNewsWorld, the device comes preloaded with Kaspersky Labs’ security product, the aforementioned protection from spyware and hackers. The company also stated it doesn’t store users’ communication metadata and does not accept over-the-air Android updates, both points of vulnerability often exposed by hackers.

Beyond that, users can pay the $10 monthly fee with bitcoins through BitPay, use fake information to sign-up for the services, and change phone numbers freely to help maintain their anonymity.

“We’ve taken all the measures we can,” Miller said. “We can’t do anything with 100 percent certainty and don’t make claims to.”

While I have no doubt FreedomPop’s services on the Snowden Phone are a privacy advocates’ dream, I can’t help but think things have gone too far, with company’s such as this providing the more dangerous elements of our world with easy-to-use, secure, and anonymous communication services, services that could be used against us in the future. Of course that summarizes the entire crux of this ongoing privacy debate…

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