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The 'spy-free' app you can use to stop surveillance

Posting in Design

A new "surveillance proof" application aims to make encryption easy for the general public and businesses alike.

How far governments across the globe can go in order to protect the public without invading their privacy is a concern made paramount by modern technology. "Big Brother" -- Nineteen eighty-four notwithstanding -- ranges from wire tapping to drones, but for the general public, email, device location and online activity surveillance can make us nervous.

However, would-be eavesdroppers don't have everything their own way. A team of security experts -- including Apple's disk-encryption system designer Jon Callas -- led by former Navy SEAL commando Mike Janke have developed what they describe as new, worldwide encryption tools.

The encryption service known as "Silent Circle" is subscription-based access to four services -- Silent Phone, Silent Text, Silent Eyes and Silent Mail. Every communication is processed through a peer-to-peer service, which means there is no central database where data or keys are stored. When you make a call or send a text, an individual key is generated by the service, and then immediately deleted once the data is processed. In addition, a "burn" function lets you set an auto-timer on messages sent -- almost like a self-destruct function.

For optimal encryption, both sender and receiver need to have the app installed. If not, then data is encrypted until it reaches the device service provider. In case of emails, this is not necessary.

According to the developers of Silent Circle, the app is simple enough to use for the general public. They believe that for governments, media, celebrities and businesses operating in China the app will be especially useful -- but the general public can also benefit.

If you're worried about third-party snooping, access will cost you $20 a month. Apps for the iPhone and iPad are available. Windows, Android and an email service are promised to soon follow.

Image credit: Secret Circle

— By on October 21, 2012, 5:30 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure