Ultraprivate Smartphones – The Great MIT and Silent Circle’s Phil Zimmerman

All image rights and credits the sole property of Technology Review and David Talbot’s piece, Ultraprivate Smartphones.

Quaint Times
We all love our smartphones, and we both love and hate the addiction — perhaps most of us anyway. Many of us remember a time you had to head home, or go to the office, or find a corner phone booth to make a call. Arguably most of us remember having actually to wait until we were at home or at work to make a phone call or pull up our email, or to do too many things nowadays to count on our phones. What drudgery, some might think of the pre-smartphone era. But what quaint times.

Phones Are Becoming Our Internet Experience
We all know the conveniences of our smartphones: Get a text from your college son or daughter who needs a little cash before the end of the month, then transfer money to their bank accounts; while camping, take a shot of a beautiful sunrise, then text the pic to your parents; see a great football action shot of your favorite team, then text a whole group of your friends. Any time, practically anywhere. Among other wonders. All on your phone.

Pitfalls A’Plenty
Before we get to some points about the amazing crypto-security wonders happening at MIT, with associated technology brainiacs and their work on phone privacy, I will point out that we all “kind of” know the pitfalls of our smartphones: They are, in order, security, security and security. In the back of our reptilian brains if not in our frontal lobes, we know that whatever and whomever we text, email, call or visit, is stored by any number of companies, governments, individuals and whoever the hell else. Either through hacking or questionably legitimate means, we are inextricably watched and listened to mother ship phone and web servers that monitor our every keystroke and GPS us at every turn. For better or worse.

Phones Are Glued To Our Kids’ Hands
Whether we like it or not, we just love all this Internet crap. My wife made sure our sons, now ages 19 and 21, had cell phones when they were 7 or 8. “Why does a 7-year-old need a smartphone?” and “Why do I feel like an idiot if I wonder whether my uninitiated young sons need a phone?” I would ask her. “To keep them up to speed!” and “So I can call them whenever I want!” she would retort, while I looked like (and still do) a comparative Luddite in our home. Looking back, my boys were early adopters and we think they gained more than those whose parents kept phones away from their kids. My boys were in the arena at an early age.

In The Arena, Full of Sweat & Dust & Blood
We all generally need to be in that arena, whether we like it or not. If you aren’t there, your competitors, families, friends and colleagues are. So that’s where we all want to be, security be damned.

Ultraprivate Smartphones, Phil Zimmerman & PGP
Now to MIT. What more can these gals and guys do to advance the security of phones? In “Ultraprivate Smartphones: New models built with security and privacy in mind reflect the Zeitgeist of the Snowden era”, by David Talbot of TechnologyReview.com, covers the work of Phil Zimmerman, founder of Silent Circle, which helps individuals and organizations keep their phone calls private. Talbot and others call Zimmerman a “crypto warrior” who stands against the forces of secret metadata collection and surveillance. Zimmerman is a longtime privacy advocate, and is credited for starting “PGP” technology that most Internet Service Providers use today to encrypt email going to and coming into their servers.

Read Talbot’s Technology Review piece on the great cyber warrior Phil Zimmerman, and vist Zimmerman’s Silent Circle web site.

Greg Goaley, President of WinCommunications in Des Moines, Iowa, is a former copywriter and creative editor, and a 25-year digital content strategist and provider. Kathryn Towner is President of WinM@il USA, a former 15-year sales rep for Random House/McGraw-Hill, and a 20-year permission-based email publications consultant and provider.