Silent Circle lands first mobile partner with KPN deal

The Dutch telco will begin offering Silent Circle's encrypted comms apps, and later on, its Blackphone handset.
Written by Martin Gijzemijter, Contributor

Dutch telco KPN has entered into a strategic partnership with encryption firm Silent Circle.

The deal, announced today, will allow KPN's customers to make secure mobile phone and video calls across the globe as well as send encrypted data.

KPN is the first telco in the world to offer the services of Silent Circle. To this end, the company has purchased the exclusive rights for the Dutch, Belgian, and German markets.

Silent Circle, founded by American crypto guru Phil Zimmermann, is currently providing apps that allow for communication that cannot be tapped, and has plans to release the first espionage-free smartphone shortly, known as the Blackphone.

KPN said it will initially offer Silent Circle's encryption apps as well as the Blackphone at a later stage. The Blackphone, which has security-focused operating system called PrivatOS, is set to be revealed at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona next week.

Communications using Silent Circle's tech, whether it concerns text messages or phone calls, is encrypted on the smartphone, before it is sent to the recipient. The recipient, who also needs to have the Silent Circle app installed, will then decrypt the data on their smartphone, leaving the communication incomprehensible to would-be snoopers.

The pitch for the service is that users don't need to fear phone taps by telcos. "There simply is nothing to tap. Even if the police want to make us give them information, there's nothing we can do for them. We don't have the keys, we can't access any information," Zimmerman told Webwereld.

Of course, this method only works when both users have the encryption software installed; a phone call between a Blackphone user and a regular telephone is only encrypted up to the server.

Another security measure, according to KPN, is that the "keys are automatically destroyed after a communication session, making it impossible to decrypt the contents of the conversation or the data".

KPN customers will be able to download the Silent Phone and Silent Text app of Silent Circle via KPN's CloudStore. The apps are available for iOS and Android, although there is no word yet on a version for Windows Phone.

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