A Smartphone That Tries To Slip You Off The Grid – by AARTI SHAHANI February 28, 2014 3:30 AM


The Blackphone, an Android software-based mobile encrypts texts, voice calls and video chats.

The Blackphone, an Android software-based mobile encrypts texts, voice calls and video chats.

Albert Gea/Reuters/Landov

Mike Janke used to be a Navy SEAL sniper. These days he’s taking on the government and corporate America. He’s the founder of Blackphone, an Android-based smartphone with privacy as its main selling point.

It’s not NSA-proof — in that everything is hackable if you try hard enough. But Janke says it’s taking on the entire mobile economy that lets law enforcement and companies in way too easily.

Take apps that look free but mine your data to earn big dollars. Facebook tries to get your contacts, Google Maps tries to get your geolocation, Pandora gets your music preferences. Blackphone has a default setting: no — unless you proactively choose yes.

Blackphone also rebels against smartphone norms. Say you want to spend Sunday afternoon lost in a coffee shop or a clothing store. You might think you’re off the grid, but your phone, using Wi-Fi, is talking to beacons “finding out where you’ve been, making offerings to you,” Janke says. “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.”

In addition to hiding identity, Blackphone stores user data in a secure vault in Switzerland — kind of like those no-questions-asked Swiss bank accounts. It sounds like the digital equivalent of wearing sunglasses and a trench coat everywhere. So I ask the obvious follow-up question: Is it mostly for criminals?

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http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/02/28/283523473/a-smartphone-that-tries-to-slip-you-off-the-grid