As you may know, your $630 NSA Red Flag — SGP Technologies' encryption-happy Blackphone — is now shipping worldwide! And Ars Technica has the exclusive, spec-heavy (and deeply schizophrenic) first review of planet's Earth's most paranoid smartphone. Remember: You hide, they seek.
It's worth reading all of Ars' Blackphone test drive, just to follow the IT editor's unnerving tonal leaps, for example, from explaining how the device protects your calls from cell phone-tower spoofing, to complaining that reviewing a prototype robbed him of a proper "unboxing" experience.
Oh, God! Then — during a section on the phone's unique operating system, PrivatOS — there is THIS:
PrivatOS' main innovation is its Security Center, an interface that allows the user to explicitly control just what bits of hardware functionality and data each application on the phone has access to. It even provides control over the system-level applications — you can, if you wish for some reason, turn off the Camera app's access to the camera hardware and turn off the Browser app's access to networks.
This feature is more valuable, from a consumer standpoint, for locking down what personal data commercial apps can access. But it's easy to see how Security Center's functionality could be attractive to corporate and government customers when tied to a mobile device management tool. It might also explain why SGP Technologies' US offices are so close to Washington, DC.
So! We are just going to leave that morsel of information unexamined, huh, Ars Technica? "What exactly are you trying to say about SGP Technologie's US offices?" is what I'd like to know.
How safe will our communiqués actually be from the Feds? Is it a next-generation "burner killer"? Or the smartphone that knew too much?