Happy privacy news even paranoids could love

Perk up, buttercup -- the Blackphone and MIT researchers offer glimmers of hope amid our NSA- and hack-filled landscape

When you're a journalist, tips pour into your inbox nonstop. Some concern current events, like BloomNation.com's breakthrough as the first online florist to accept bitcoins in time for Valentine's Day, but the rest hammer home the message that our lives are about as private as Justin Bieber's arrest record. Waste enough hours every day reading news from all around this big, blue, environmentally leprous marble, and like this aging snarko, you too will be overwhelmed by word of backroom NSA encryption dealings and the Canuck intelligence service spying on travelers going through its airports, especially once you've fully drained your quart of Johnny Walker life juice.

But my last NSA rant even left me a little down in the dumps, like a dog stuffed into a sidecar that came loose from a speeding motorcycle. I decided to cheer myself up by finding some positive news regarding personal privacy. It can't be all bad, right?

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I started by checking out the happy news sites I heard about a while back and dismissed as psychological crutches for Scientology rejects or Lindsay Lohan's legal team. Unfortunately, when I entered "personal privacy" into the site's search engine, all I got were links to a privacy policy page and a reference to the consumer privacy act from 2001.

Banking hopes on the Blackphone

Nuts -- I'd have to find happy privacy on my own. After downing a slug of cough syrup from Pammy's medicine cabinet, I got to work. To stay positive, I stuck a knitting needle into my thigh. The obvious place to start was the Blackphone that I pooh-poohed yesterday, but to which I'm now clinging with the desperation of Charlie White trying to make ice dancing look straight for the Sochi Olympics. If you dropped your iPhone in the toilet and are looking longingly at the gun safe, take some Blackphone heart.

For those who've been laid out on the bathroom floor since discovering their spouse went shopping at Target, here's the scoop: The Blackphone is an independent mobile device developed by Geeksphone and Silent Circle. It uses a custom, hardened operating system (PrivatOS) with Silent Circle's encryption software to provide native security for text messaging, phone calls, and even video communication.

In the course of my research, I also discovered a German company that's been producing CryptoPhone, a secure phone line, for a while now, which was both good and unexpected news from a country that helped perfect fascism for one dark decade. In addition, there were rumors of blueprints for a secure Android phone released by the NSA and tellingly dubbed "Fishbowl" -- a splash of comic relief.

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