Purism, a San Francisco-based technology company, is set to launch Librem 5, a new smartphone that will incorporate several privacy and security features to protect users from existing threats.
Librem 5 will come with end-to-end encrypted phone calls and texts, secure VPNs for browsing and user controls over what apps can access.
Librem 5, the new smartphone that Purism has put up for crowdfunding, will run an open-source Linux distro that will help the firm address concerns about digital privacy, security, and software freedom.
With Librem 5, Purism is taking steps to separate baseband functionality from the CPU with a view to freeing up all components at a later stage. This will ensure that apps will be able to run smoothly without having to gain access to device information, browser usage history or location data.
Aside from implementing end-to-end encrypted decentralized communication in its dialer and messaging apps, Purism will also ensure that Librem 5 will operate with free/libre and open source software within the kernel, the operating system, and all software applications. This will ensure that personal data of users will not be obtained by third parties through WiFi connections, application installations, and basic location services.
The phone will also arrive with automatically disabled location services, and strong user controls over other functionalities like Bluetooth, cameras, microphone, and baseband. It will also give users the option to mask their phone numbers while making encrypted calls.
Librem 5 will be the second such phone to launch this year after Macate launched Genio, a cyber security-oriented smartphone in July that offered automatic encryption of instant messages, voice recordings, video calls and attachments.
At the heart of Genio's cyber security credentials are Macate's proprietary NetMe messaging app and highest-level AES encryption. The NetMe app offers automatic encryption of instant messages, sent and received files, voice recordings, video calls and all file attachments. Macate has termed the Genio as “one of the most secure mid-range phones in the UK” but it will surely face a tough challenge from BlackBerry's DTEK60 which offers similar capabilities.
Phones like Genio and Librem 5 are modern-day mercenaries that offer users plenty of privacy compared to the likes of Android and iOS. Millions of apps on both app stores request permissions to access a lot of device information that they have no real use of. It is time that such permissions, except critical ones, are done away with to ensure user privacy and freedom.
"Starting at $599—less than the cost of many popular smartphones—and featuring a bona fide GNU/Linux operating system (PureOS) instead of Android or iOS, the Librem 5 is intended to give users unprecedented control and security with features unavailable on any other mainstream smartphone," said Purism.