Back in June, Erik Prince — founder of the notorious private military contracting corporation behind the Nisour Square massacre, brother of former education secretary Betsy DeVos, and son of the MLM pioneer Edgar Prince — announced his latest business venture on Steve Bannon's radio show: a standalone mobile device called Unplugged, designed to allow "patriots to communicate securely."
The idea here is to have a phone that keeps you outside of the Google / Apple / Amazon / Facebook network. Or, as they put it:
Get a Government-grade secure phone with an Operating System developed for data privacy and security. Independent from Google and Apple.
(The operating system, btw, is called LibertOS)
It's not a bad idea — a p2p OS, with none of your data being stored in the annals of a Big Tech company eager to comply with warrants and subpoenas. Not sure how much I actually trust this device, considering Prince's involvement, but sure — nice idea, on the surface.
Unplugged is planning a big PR push at the upcoming DEF CON — and lo and behold, their PR reps claimed that Glenn Greenwald himself, fresh off the Alex Jones apology tour, will be there to help promote their product:
(Glenn Greenwald, it should be noted, did not understand PGP when Snowden first reached out to him.)
I emailed Glenn to ask about this, and here's what he had to say:
The conference sent me an invitation to speak. It said nothing about any phone, just to speak on digital privacy and Big Tech, something I've spoken about many times. I haven't accepted the invitation to speak because I don't know if it works with my schedule or if I want to travel to Las Vegas again – I was just there 2 weeks ago. When these phone people heard I had been invited to DEF CON, they asked my representative if I'd give them time to show me a new privacy phone. I hadn't even accepted the DEF CON offer to speak, let alone scheduled a meeting with them, let alone said I'd be willing to talk about the phone, defend it, pitch it or whatever. I know literally nothing about this phone. It's possible PR people got totally ahead of themselves with miscommunications, so we sent them clear emails demanding they retract this claim, but what angers me are journalists and self-proclaimed privacy experts spreading this as Truth without checking, precisely because they knew how damaging the accusation would be.
I've never received any payment from any of these entities in connection with any conference, any speaking arrangements, or any phones or anything else.
And on Twitter: