If you’re searching for the perfect gift for the American drug dealer, aspiring terrorist, or tinfoil-hat-wearing libertarian in your life, look no further.
The newly announced FreedomPop Privacy Phone, from US telco FreedomPop, is designed to shield a user’s calls, text and Web activities against hacking by third parties and government agencies.
The $189, no-contract device is a reconfigured Samsung Galaxy S II, which FreedomPop has nicknamed ‘the Snowden phone’ in honour of infamous National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The handset uses 128-bit encryption to protect voice calls and text; the same level of security used to protect consumer information across banking and shopping websites, as well as data transmitted by government agencies.
The Privacy Phone also has a built-in VPN to allow users to browse the Web anonymously, and comes equipped with additional mobile security to protect against viruses, malware, and unsolicited calls and texts.
If you care about specs as well as privacy, the handset features a 1.2GHz processor, a 4.3 inch screen, 8-megapixel camera and 16GB of internal storage.
Customers preferring to stay off the grid can purchase the phone incognito with Bitcoin, and will also have the freedom to change their phone number as often as needed.
Unfortunately, the phone is only available to US customers on FreedomPop service plans.
Privacy is a right, not a privilege
FreedomPop says the phone’s release is a direct response to consumer concerns about privacy across mobile devices, particularly in light of the recent NSA and GCHQ (the UK's Government Communications Headquarters) hacking scandals.
The company believes that Americans have the right to communicate anonymously and, as major carriers have no interest in investing in their customer’s privacy, FreedomPop COO Steven Sesar "...felt it was up to us to create a truly private mobile phone service at an affordable price."
It's possible that the phone will be more appealing to the nation's criminal element than to everyday citizens, but FreedomPop isn’t the first company to market an apparently 'untraceable' device to the paranoid phone users of America.
Ziklag System’s FortressFone comes with 256-bit encryption and claims to have been reengineered to fit NSA security guidelines, while startup Silent Circle is set to release its ultra-secure Blackphone mid-year.