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Blackphone aims to protect your privacy in a world where your data is for sale

Matt Brian, @m4tt
February 25, 2014
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Information is a currency. For every company selling your details for profit, there's another selling you the promise of more security. Recognizing that consumers are running a gauntlet every time they pick up their smartphone, a group of companies has partnered up to offer something different. Announced earlier this year, the Blackphone is an Android smartphone that prioritizes privacy and security, shielding your data from carriers, advertisers and malicious third parties who could trade your details for the purposes of profit or oppression -- and it's on sale today for $629.

How does it work? The idea is pretty simple: You start out with a nicely designed and well-specced Android-based phone, and then package it with some tried-and-tested apps and services that will work out of the box. The first layer is a customized skin called "PrivatOS" which gives the phone a different look and feel, but also works as a platform (soon to be open-source) that encrypts locally stored information. Next, you add in services like Silent Circle and Disconnect.me to enable anonymous phone calls, texts and browsing too. Finally, Blackphone comes with utilities that give the user better control over what third-party software does on their phone. We tried out a dashboard that makes it extremely easy to set the degree of access each app has to cellular networks, WiFi and locally stored info. The video below shows you just how easy Blackphone makes it to take yourself off the grid.

Gallery: Blackphone hands-on | 7 Photos

Sharif Sakr contributed to this report.

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