UPDATE 1-New private calling plan for the surveillance age

Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:30am EDT
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* Silent Circle offers private international calling

* "Burn" feature disposes of communication records

* Flat-rate roaming in 79 countries (Adds details of service, competitive landscape, executive comments)

By Eric Auchard

VIENNA, July 10 (Reuters) - Silent Circle, a company known for mobile apps designed to thwart government surveillance, is introducing a fixed price, secrecy-cloaking service on Thursday that lets customers make and receive private phone calls.

The secure voice-and-data calling plan works on Apple iOS and Android smartphones and, eventually, on Windows Mobile systems, the company said. Callers can reach 79 countries, including China, Russia, most of Europe and the Americas. Large parts of the Middle East and Africa are not covered.

The service aims to challenge not just traditional phone carriers - who still by and large charge steep roaming fees to international travelers - but also to newer, voice-over-Internet services that have sprung up over the past decade.

For while Silent Circle undercuts major competitors' roaming costs in many countries, the service's basic attraction lies in its security features.

"What Silent Circle is offering is an augmented level of security beyond what normal phones can offer," said Ben Wood, a senior analyst with mobile research firm CCS Insight. "It captures the zeitgeist in terms of paranoia by answering the question of what more consumers can do to protect themselves."   Continued...