BitPhone Shuts Down Service, Cites Regulatory Privacy Issues

BitPhone is, or soon will be “was,” an encrypted voice and video calling service. It offered services to anyone, never asking for any identifying information.

bitphoneNow the BitPhone web site at says:

Bitphone closing due to regulatory requirements
After 1.5 years in operation, is shutting down.

WE DIDN’T GET HACKED, NOT ONCE! – And believe me, they tried!
All customer funds are secure and accounted for!
(and we are happy to say that!)

Unfortunately we’ve had too many users abuse our phone service!

Our underlying carrier service now requires we collect your identification when placing calls. – We won’t do it… To quote Roger Ver:

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Chinese Consortium buys Opera browser for $600 Million

I wrote about the free Opera web browser three months ago at Opera says its light, quick browser is used by more than 350 million consumers worldwide. I praised the Norwegian company’s inclusion of a high-security VPN in the product at no charge. Norwegian laws offer strong protection of the privacy of individuals. However, a Chinese consortium now is purchasing the Opera internet browser for $600 million (543 million euros), its Norwegian developer said Monday, after a public share offer for the company failed. I now am not so certain that I would trust a VPN being offered by a Chinese company.

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Apple’s Privacy Policies Apply to the iPhone but not to iCloud

In a highly-publicized case, Apple is refusing to decrypt a customer’s iPhone to allow the FBI to go on a “legal fishing expedition” to see if maybe there is information on the iPhone of interest to law enforcement. Apple says it can’t provide information that’s stored on iPhones because it doesn’t have access to people’s passcodes. Opening the door to those phones for law enforcement could make your personal information vulnerable to others, Apple argues.

icloud-logoApple also encourages its customers to place backup copies of email messages, photos, personal notes, contacts and calendar events to Apple’s iCloud. The online service is a convenience that allows customers to track lost or stolen iPads and iPhones, restore damaged devices, and keep lots of music and photos that don’t fit on the device. There is an interesting twist to this, however: in contrast to information stored inside an iPhone, Apple already can access all the information stored in iCloud.

If you are storing information in iCloud, your information is already available to Apple and, with a court order, can be accessed by law enforcement agencies. Of course, if law enforcement agencies can gain access to the information, sooner-or-later hackers, thieves, and others will do the same even without a court order. Anyone who can hack into iCloud could access your personal information. We already have seen many examples where hackers have accessed the private photographs and other information of celebrities.

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Symphony Raises $100 Million From New Investors

Symphony-logoSymphony is a cloud-based messaging service that uses advanced encryption technology to secure communications. It is aimed primarily at financial companies, which are required by law to keep copies of their messages for several years in case regulators or law enforcement ever need them for an investigation. The big advantage of Symphony is that the encrypted communications cannot be intercepted by snoops.

Symphony launched its first product on September 15. Today the company announced additional funding of $100 million. The investors include Google (!), Switzerland-based bank UBS, Lakestar, the European VC firm and two French investment banks, including Société Générale and Natixis. The funding pushes Symphony’s total capital raised elevates its valuation to a reported $650 million.

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