Ever since Edward Snowden revealed how the National Security Agency (NSA) snoops on corporations and individuals, a sense of paranoia has haunted everyone. Security and privacy have become the top priorities of people when it comes to owning mobile devices.
Despite the threat that Big Brother is listening, the choices are limited. A young and relatively small player in the telecommunication industry, FreedomPop is trying to fill the gap and answer the needs of consumers with its Privacy Phone or what is being headlined across the blogosphere as the "Snowden Phone."
"In light of recent violations in consumer's privacy across social networks and mobile devices, privacy is becoming increasingly important to many Americans and we all have a right to communicate anonymously. Large carriers don't have the flexibility, desire or creativity to invest in privacy. We don't agree with this approach and felt it was up to us to create a truly private mobile phone service at an affordable price," said FreedomPop chief operating officer Steven Sesarin a statement.
The Freedom Phone is being sold for $189 that includes a three-month deal with unlimited texting, voice and 500MB data consumption per month. Consumers will have to pay $10 after the promo perio ends. The company even accepts bitcoins for purchases to ensure the utmost anonymity.
The FreedomPop Privacy Phone has two promises: communication privacy and mobile security.
To achieve communication privacy, the company makes use of 128-bit encryption that will allow users to communicate without having to worry that somebody might be eavesdropping on their voice calls or intercepting their text messages. The handset also allows anonymous browsing of the Internet and bypassing of any website restriction.
FreedomPop promises top-of-the-line mobile security against viruses, malware, phishing websites and unauthorized use of the device in case it is stolen. Its promo page also states that it can temporarily make the list of contacts, call history and text messages confidential, but it does say how it will do these things.
The "Snowden Phone" is also just a modified Samsung Galaxy S II running on Android Jelly Bean, which for sure will be suspect to scrutiny, giventhe fact that it is a few generations old. While the company may use encryption, there is also no guarantee that a non-custom hardware is full proof from any hacking.
We might need to wait and see if the FreedomPop handset can deliver what it promises, but it sounds too affordable to be true.
"People are starting to believe that average citizens will pay a little bit of money to protect their data. No one has been able to find if these products are going to be sticky on a mass scale yet," said Forrester Research senior analyst Faterneh Khatibloo.
Of late we have heard of companies claiming that they have an "NSA-proof" handset to offer. Boeing, for example, announced its Black smartphone that can even self-destruct when tampered upon.
There is also the BlackPhone that essentially has the same claim of protecting people's privacy. The company behind it projects selling at least 10 million units by 2018.
Aside from worrying about the NSA snooping on them, consumers today must determine whether offers are real or just pure gimmick.