baa baa blacksheepHave you any wool? No? We’ll check with the black sheep instead. How about a high-security cell phone designed to ease the minds of the more paranoid among us (including the author)? Silent Circle, an encrypted communications firm based in Switzerland, will be releasing its Blackphone 2 in September 2015 to anyone with $629 burning a hole in his pocket (not including the author). Features include encrypted call, video, and text, no roaming charges, Burn  functionality, and a private, Android-based operating system. For anyone concerned with privacy from apps the Blackphone 2 has a private, secure App Store and will either block apps requesting sensitive information or fool them into thinking they got it (supposing applications are anthropomorphic, that is). Other features and specs can be found here.

Following the Snowden incident, the Sony hack, and various other privacy catastrophes, the creators of the Blackphone wanted to build a device that would protect their company’s privacy (and then they discovered that other companies wanted data security too). The 2014 Mobile World Conference awarded the Blackphone “Device of the Year” despite the experts’ doubts. The rest is history (aside from the Blackphone 2, which is a thing of the future). Silent Circle has also developed apps for iPhone and Android for a more limited Blackphone experience, just in case anyone wants to make a few calls without six or seven governments listening in.

Until the Blackphone 2 arrives, there are two potentially viable options for putting enough pennies together to afford it. The first is to continue with the day job (predictable and boring, maybe, but certain), and the second is to hack the original Blackphone (inventive and entertaining, probably, but uncertain). For those interested in hacking the purportedly NSA-proof phone, Blackphone has partnered with Bugcrowd, which provides a system for friendly hackers to report bugs and receive their due reward. At $128 per bug, it only takes five hacks to buy a Blackphone 2, and there’s the added benefit of knowing there are five fewer holes in the phone’s security. Happy hunting.

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