A mobile application company has launched an encrypted international calling plan that promises to protect its users’ conversations from government surveillance efforts. Some analysts believe the service offered by the Geneva-based Silent Circle could compete with non-secure voice and data plans offered by popular companies like Skype and Viber.
Silent Circle’s plan is available in 79 countries including Canada, the United States, China, Russia and countries in Europe and South America. The app currently works on Android and Apple iOS smart phones and a version for Windows Mobile phones is in the works.
Silent Circle’s products play very well into the paranoia created by recent revelations of the US National Security Agency’s mobile phone spying activities, well publicized state-sponsored cyber espionage activities attributed to China and surveillance carried out by repressive states against activists.
The company is positioning its service as a secure communication alternative for business travelers, lawyers, executives and even journalists and activist who deal with sensitive information and are worried of snooping activities by government agencies, criminals or corporate spies. However, Silent Circle’s aggressive pricing also pits it against other commercial voice and data companies.
Silent Circle’s encrypted international calling plans will be given unique ten-digit Silent Phone numbers letting them complete calls “outside the Circle” to and from an expanded number of geographic regions which is “four to five times more than its closest non-secure competitors like Skype and Viber.”
Out-Circle encrypted calling plans start at US $12.95 USD for 100 minutes. The plan provides unlimited Silent Phone member to member calling, unlimited Silent Text messaging around the world, the ability to receive calls to your Silent Phone number from anyone in the world, plus 100 minutes to make calls to non-subscribers in any of the regions covered.
Plans with additional minutes can be purchased at $19.95 for 250 minutes, $24.95 for 500 minutes and $39.95 for 1000 minutes. Calls can be received from anywhere in the world at the calling party’s standard long-distance rates.
“Silent Circle’s Out-Circle encrypted international calling plans are a major step forward in bringing private encrypted communications capabilities to all corners of the world,” according to Mike Janke. CEO of Silent Circle. “The facts are that Out-Circle Calling provides a low-cost, private alternative to traditional mobile calling plans that everyone from your neighbor to traveling multinational executives can use.”
Jenke is a former member of the US Navy’s Sea Air Land (SEAL) special operations force. In 2011, he founded Silent Circle with Phil Zimmermann, creator of the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used email encryption software in the world; and Jon Callas, creator of Apple’s Whole Disk Encryption.
Earlier this year, Silent Circle and Spanish smart phone maker Geeksphone introduced the Blackphone, a $629 smart phone powered by a security-hardened version of the Android operating system. The company also partners with high-end security smart phone maker Vertu of England, cyber security firm Cyber Smart Defence of Romania and Leviathan Security Group of Seattle.