This post is by Evander Smart.
Freedom of association. Privacy. Free speech. Basic rights that many of us take for granted are under increased governmental scrutiny in today’s digital age. Private emails, phone calls and now web-based video calls are all routinely inspected in the name of national security, at least in Western cultures like the U.S. and Great Britain. The Guardian reports that Skype has provided “backdoors” to state-run surveillance programs like PRISM for years. In light of these disclosures, the tech and cryptography communities have stepped in to develop encrypted alternatives designed to preserve privacy, such as encrypted messaging like Telegram and Signal or financial privacy with Bitcoin and the blockchain.
BitPhone has started the new year off with an encrypted video “Web Call” feature that may help users beat the Skype surveillance blues, letting freedom ring once again.
Via BitPhone’s encrypted Web Call system, Bitcoin Magazine caught up with founder Gavin Stephens. The discussion focused on how quickly BitPhone has grown since the public launch of Bitphone Beta in July. With the new year, the company has already unveiled new BitPhone features based on customer demand. For example, besides encrypted video web calls, BitPhone now allows users to pay with altcoins in addition to bitcoins to stay in touch wherever users have an online connection.
“BitPhone calls have been placed to over 55 countries, and users have paid for calls with Bitcoin and a variety of cryptocurrencies, thanks to our ShapeShift.io integration,”Stephens told Bitcoin Magazine .“Many users were concerned about their privacy because public switched telephone networks are susceptible to snooping and eavesdropping. Our new Web Call feature connects users peer-to-peer and enables fully encrypted audio and video conversations. These Web Calls can be an audio conference bridge, a streaming video platform, a paid video broadcast or a private conversation. Your video calls never go to any server, so they cannot be monitored or eavesdropped on.”
Web Calls are currently two cents per minute for the caller, and the caller can set the receiver to either get the call free or be charged, a benefit for business applications. This means Bitphone users can build a business around a pay-per-minute or pay-per-call service. Whether it is a legal practice that wants to provide a preliminary consultation to tech startups or a new business with partners and customers on opposite sides of the globe, the possibilities are endless for this sort of paid, online functionality.
User safety and security are paramount in the value equation, or callers might as well use a centralized service like Skype or Google Hangouts. The contents of Bitphone’s Web Calls are not accessible by any potential government agency since these encrypted files don’t have a centralized server, much like Bitcoin.
“Collecting Bitcoin from Web callers is an excellent way to make money without subjecting your users to endless commercials and ads,” says Stephens. “We’ve also added a Web Call widget that enables users to call you using Bitphone technology from your own website. Web visitors can simply click a ‘Click here to call me’ link that uses their browser to call your private number. For a limited time, all Bitphone users who register and maintain a private URL will get free Web Call hosting for life.”
Bitphone’s fully encrypted phone calls and web video calls seem like a great option for the growing digital currency community, either for business or personal use. Who couldn’t use a little more privacy?