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Article12 wants to ensure your right to privacy via your smartphone

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Article 12 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights says “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.”

Inspired by this passage, a relatively new company has adopted “Article 12” as its moniker, as it aspires to dethrone Blackberry as the most secure handset offering in the world for governments and enterprises.

In fact, it was hard to glean a lot of information about Article12.

Article12 just launched about a week ago, after being in stealth mode for the past few months. While it’s not a manufacturing company, it does more than just provide a secure operating system. The company, which is based in Zurich, is pairing with various manufacturers to design a smartphone tailored to its software, with certain “logistics” that make the hardware secure in itself. Tyler Nelson, the company’s COO, didn’t want to share more information.

In fact, it was hard to glean a lot of information about Article12. However, we do know the secure operating system it’s going to initially launch on — Android. Nelson says that’s because Android is dominant in terms of market share.

It’s not stock Android though — Nelson said Article12 has closed loopholes in the system and has made it more secure, but wasn’t keen on offering other information. The device Article12 will support is encrypted, and features end-to-end encryption for both voice and text messaging. The company will provide its service as an overlay to a mobile operator’s network, similar to how Blackberry provides its secure voice, data, and SMS features. It will also have its own suite of security apps installed in the device.

Nelson says Article12 will also provide fast updates to deal with security patches, but it’s unclear if that applies to upgrading to the latest version of Android immediately.

In terms of actual hardware — the company has only announced a partner so far that is looking to produce hardware to the Indian government and businesses in the financial sector. Article12 showed a demo device, which is the same as the one displayed on its website — but Nelson couldn’t comment on what the end product would look like. There was also a Windows tablet on display, hinting at a possible inclusion of the operating system into Article12’s secure platform.

The name of Article12’s first hardware manufacturer is OctoGence Digital Systems, itself a new company that will be working with on bringing more secure handsets to India. Jayanti Chandrasekar, director at OctoGence, says the devices will indeed feature high-end specs. Article12 hopes to bring its service to the U.S. within the next year and a half, but is also planning on moving into Sri Lanka, the Middle East, and possibly Eastern Europe.

So far, the company has a catchy name, sleek branding, and a solid design for what looks to be the packaging for its devices. We’ll keep an eye on the firm as it continues to expand and announces more partnerships in the coming months.

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