"The Blackphone is out", "The Blackphone will save your privacy".
Yeah, right. We can see this on every web page. Of course, nowadays, with the NSA and other "nice" people caring about our security and integrity, this Blackphone seems promising. Data servers are in Switzerland and Canada, which seems cool and fancy.
More over, fact it involves Silent Circle, created by Phil Zimmermann, seems to make it legit. Well… Really?
Let's have a closer look at this Miracle of Privacy.
Here, nothing to say: the hardware description doesn't provide any information regarding its openness. Nevertheless, two thing will still be closed: the baseband OS and SIM OS
. Imagine an OS embedded in your phone you can't access at all nor monitor. How great, right?
More over, this blackbox is managing all you mobile communication. Meaning it can send and receive data without your knowledge.
This means just one thing: the Blackphone won't do anything in order to correct this bad point (or back door).
Here, it's a bit more funny: the Blackphone embedded a lot of things from Silent Circle. After a quick scan on their web site, we can just see one thing: nothing is free (though 2 years are offered
for free when you buy the Blackphone), nothing is opened. So we should just trust them? OK, Mr ZImmermann is "someone", but hey… If we had to learn ONE thing from all the Snowden stuff: never trust anyone
On this side : nothing. No source. No information regarding its openness. Once again, "trust us". Guys, seriously… This won't do it. This is not the way to go.
Of course, we have some ways to get a smarter phone: custom roms like AOKP, Slimroms, Pac-rom or Cyanogenmod are widely available. They are opened, meaning community can get a hand on them, dig inside the code in order to ensure nothing bad is hidden in there. They are free, meaning you won't need to pay anything (but donation are welcomed).
More over, most of them come without any bulky application installed: you get a vanilla android, with some customisation like a better control centre, or the ability to blacklist number or even the ability to override application permissions in order to get a quiet phone.
If you want to go fully open source, you may as well go away from Play and gapps services, and use some alternate market like f-droid.org, which provides only open sources applications.
Just to show you the possibilities:
Silent Text, using some monthly or annually subscription, using US servers and so on, may be replaced by the following applications:
, from Whispersystems
, an open alternative under heavy development
, closed source application developed by Kasper Systems GmbH
, a 100% Swiss company
Silent Phone may be replaced by RedPhone
, also developed by Whispersystems. There is also the OSTel
service available, which provide encrypted SIP service for free. This one is backed up by the GuardianProject
All of those (except Threema) are free and opened. And, for what we can tell, the security of most of them is controllable.
So, ready to pay more than 600USD for some closed phone when you may install some opened ROM on your current mobile and install fully opened application ensuring your own privacy?