Introducing JackPair – A New Hardware Tool to Encrypt Cellphone Conversations

JackPair is an affordable tool that enables average citizens to protect themselves against wiretapping.
JackPair is a standard audio adapter that can be plugged into any phone with a headset and microphone.  At any time during a phone call, both parties can plug in the JackPair device to continue their conversation in secure mode over the same call.
JackPair is inspired in large part by Edward Snowden. The first Snowden leak led to the revelation that the NSA collects records of every U.S. phone call under a call log metadata program.   It shows that the data collection is no longer about targeted acquisition of information to avert threats.   Such a massive scale of surveillance programs has undermined the fundamental American values of freedom and privacy.   America is sliding into a state of universal surveillance.
This also reminds me of the police state where I grew up, Taiwan. Before the democratic reform, the government could spy on you without reasons and arrest you based on words you have said.  Even today, there are still WaterGate-like scandals happening and the politicians get away without any accountability.

Submitted by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

JackPair

Well, I’m not actually introducing JackPair at all. The creators of the device have had their project on Kickstarter for quite some time now, but it just passed its funding goal today (it had a $35,000 goal and has already raised close to $45,000 as of publication). Congrats guys!

While encryption between cell phones is already available via apps you can download, there are several reasons I have decided to highlight the project. First, I tend to focus quite a bit on all the things going wrong in the world, so when something comes across my screen that is encouraging and should be supported, I try to mention it. Second, I was really inspired by the description of the project, which contained an added personal touch by the creator when he describes growing up in authoritarian Taiwan. Third, while there appear to be other methods to achieve similar goals, this could serve as user friendly option for the non tech savvy amongst us. Finally, security guru Bruce Schneier seems to be impressed by the device.

 

Here are a few excerpts from their Kickstarter page:

This is the first step toward a better world, and we look forward to continuing the dialogs and creating more momentum throughout this project and beyond.  You can find us at our website www.jackpair.com.

JackPair is an affordable tool that enables average citizens to protect themselves against wiretapping.  It’s a pair of encryption devices you put in between your phone and headset, which are connected through standard 3.5mm audio jacks.   You can secure your phone line by simply pushing the JackPair button, and your voice will be encrypted. There’s no password to remember, no software to install, no service to subscribe to, and it works with any phone through a standard audio jack.

The existing secure phones on the market today cost anywhere from over six hundred to a few thousand dollars.  It’s out of reach for most people, and the worst part is that, you have to give up the phones you’re using everyday, and switch to whatever secure phone models dictated by the vendors.  With JackPair, we’re enabling every citizen to protect our own privacy by making it under a hundred bucks, and you get to keep using your favorite phones while talking through JackPair’s Secure Line.

JackPair is a standard audio adapter that can be plugged into any phone with a headset and microphone.  At any time during a phone call, both parties can plug in the JackPair device to continue their conversation in secure mode over the same call.  JackPair is connected with phones through its 3.5 mm audio jack, which is the universal standard as the audio interface for all kinds of devices, including all tablets, laptops, personal computers, and most mobile phones & Voice-Over-IP devices.  For plain old telephone sets, JackPair also includes a RJ9-to-3.5mm converter for handset-free operation(*). Unlike other security devices on the market that are hard to use and work only with specific phones or carriers, JackPair is compatible with all of your favorite phones today. With JackPair, you don’t have to make the trade-off between personal security and life style.

Now here is the most powerful part…

JackPair is inspired in large part by Edward Snowden. The first Snowden leak led to the revelation that the NSA collects records of every U.S. phone call under a call log metadata program.   It shows that the data collection is no longer about targeted acquisition of information to avert threats.   Such a massive scale of surveillance programs has undermined the fundamental American values of freedom and privacy.   America is sliding into a state of universal surveillance. This also reminds me of the police state where I grew up, Taiwan. Before the democratic reform, the government could spy on you without reasons and arrest you based on words you have said.  Even today, there are still WaterGate-like scandals happening and the politicians get away without any accountability.

This proves a point I have made frequently ever since the Edward Snowden revelations were leaked. While many people have been despondent about the lack of political solutions to unconstitutional spying, this is to be expected from the thieving criminals in Washington D.C. Rather, I don’t think we will truly be able to appreciate the full positive impact from the Snowden whistleblowing for many years to come. The reason is because many of the smartest people in the world are working on technical solutions to the problem behind the scenes, far from the cancerous, stinking carcass of the Beltway.

Finally, in the “risk” section it becomes clear what a fascist country and world we live in. They write:

The U.S. Government places restrictions on the export of encryption devices like JackPair. Since the encryption software in JackPair is open sourced, we think JackPair is qualified as a self-classified encryption item and can be exported without complex encryption registrations. However, the U.S. exports controls are complex and we are not lawyers.  There might be the risk of US government limiting our ability to make JackPair available to citizens worldwide, or even being used within the U.S. In that case, the only alternative would be to have non-U.S. citizens develop the JackPair encryption software from scratch again. This has been referred as the U..S. “export jobs, not crypto” policy.

Shipping JackPair to International users pose another challenge; some countries have made private communications illegal, and there might be risks of confiscation for JackPair shipment. We don’t know the government’s reaction to JackPair yet, and will keep an eye on it. The community can help us in figuring this out collectively, and being creative for workarounds.

Go ahead and read that again.

Yes, we have a problem. Yes, I’m really glad smart, passionate people are working on solutions.

Check out their Kickstarter page here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

 

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