With diverging views on data privacy emerging between the UK and pretty well the whole of the rest of the EU (Ireland excepted), the market in privacy-focused hardware is beginning to expand. And one example of this is the rise of the Blackphone, the world’s first privacy-optimised smartphone. When it launched earlier this year, it met with sell-out success almost immediately. And now it’s launching another world first: a privacy-focused app store.
For those who want to consume their digital content free from prying third party eyes, this will be a real boon. It’s an open secret that a number of apps have been caught spying on their users, largely because of far-from-watertight permissions systems. They accessed unconnected features on users’ smartphones, like the Android torch app. How could a torch app compromise privacy? Well, by yielding data to a prying app about user location as well as other device data, which were sent on to advertisers.
Blackphone’s OS, PrivatOS, is built on Android’s KitKat and comes with a raft of pre-loaded security tools, including “Silent Circle” – a suite of apps that enable private browsing, anonymous search, encrypted communication, VPN from Disconnect and ultra-secure cloud storage from SpiderOak. In addition, the phone comes with a device recovery tool and a remote wipe facility.
PrivatOS 1.1 is in the pipeline and is expected to be available to consumers early next year. It will additionally feature a “Spaces” capability, which as the name implies will let users securely silo accounts, data and apps in separate, self-contained spaces in their phones.
Blackphone says that its rival smartphones inevitably compromise either convenience or privacy when users seek to separate work and play. That’s because data and work apps either share the same spaces as social media or personal gaming apps, or users have to carry two separate devices to make sure they’ve got separation and privacy.
The statement continued:
“Spaces can separate work life from personal life, a ‘parents only’ space from a kid-friendly one, or any other separation users can dream up – no compromises needed.”
With more and more people going mobile, the market in devices like this look set to grow steadily. Advertisers whose money keeps digital content free may need to put a lot of effort into finding more unobtrusive ways of delivering ads.