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Meet the "Snowden Phone": FreedomPop launches Privacy Phone as cheaper Blackphone rival

US Internet service provider FreedomPop, best known in the States for its free mobile services, is jumping on the encrypted smartphone bandwagon with a Blackphone rival, the Privacy Phone.

The device, affectionately nicknamed the "Snowden Phone" for NSA leaker Edward Snowden, promises private communications, anonymous Internet access, and online security. Everything down to the phone's purchase is secret: customers can even remain nameless by paying for the transaction with Bitcoins.

Try your best to evade government spooks with 128-bit encrypted voice calls and text messages — the same level of coding used by banks and government agencies. The Privacy Phone also prevents online marketers and other third parties from tracking the user's web and data activity.

In the case of a lost or stolen handset, the Privacy Phone protects information from unauthorised use, and helps locate the device. Unsolicited incoming calls and text messages are also blocked.

However, it has also been pointed out that only calling and texting similarly encrypted devices or applications will protect your content. And that fancy no-tracking feature? It's the same one that the company asks users to agree to in their privacy policy.

A closer examination shows that the Privacy Phone's features are actually housed inside a Samsung Galaxy S2. The site tipped a $189 (£113) SIM-free price tag, but given that FreedomPop only operates in the US, it seems unlikely that we'll get a UK version any time soon.

Still, the "Snowden Phone" is another indicator that mobile operators around the world are starting to get more serious about protecting their customer's privacy rights.

UK paranoids are likely to get access to the much pricier Blackphone, launched at MWC 2014 recently.