Most of us have an "it's complicated" relationship with our phones when it comes to privacy and social media. A new handset called the Freedom Phone promises to prioritize "free speech and privacy" above anything else. You might assume that the Freedom Phone follows the trend of phone-makers like Apple making it harder for your data to be shared unwillingly, and for companies to track you. The website for the Freedom Phone, which has no fewer than 10 "buy" buttons, states, "Not just making America great. But also making a great phone." Clearly the Freedom Phone is saturated in politics.
If you're looking for a phone that protects your privacy, look somewhere else. The Freedom Phone has a lot of red flags.
In a launch video, self-proclaimed "bitcoin millionaire" Erik Finman, who is funding the phone, claims that Freedom OS protects your privacy and has an "uncensorable" app store. The PatriApp store claims to feature apps banned by "Big Tech." In the video, Finman shows off a phone that is powered off and looks similar to a budget Chinese phone that sells for one-quarter of the Freedom Phone's $500 price. He doesn't share basic specs or technical details about the phone -- like if it works on the faster 5G data networks every US carrier is rolling out.
The Freedom Phone and its politically conservative branding will appeal to many. But there is nothing to suggest that the phone, its privacy claims or avoidance of "Big Tech" work the way Finman suggests. Since the announcement, numerous publications and privacy experts have raised questions and security concerns about the phone and whether Finman is being entirely forthright with potential buyers.