Natalya Kaspersky, the co-founder of Russia’s Kaspersky Lab is working on a smartphone called TaigaPhone that prevents apps like Google from spying on users. The smartphone has been designed by InfoWatch Group that is based in Moscow, Russia. Natalya is also the President of the InfoWatch Group.
The TaigaPhone will be running on customized version of Android that will prevent apps from collecting data. There is no confirmation on whether it will give access to Google Play Store. According to Natalya, “Most smartphone apps collect certain data on users and send it to outside servers.” She has also stated that when users make use of personal smartphones at workplace, their corporate emails, documents and photos are maliciously or accidently shared with third-party agencies.
TaigaPhone will allow the users to monitor and control the data that the apps try to collect. Also, IT departments in corporate companies will be able to control what apps are installed on the phone and what content are shared by the users. InfoWatch claims that the U.S. companies like Google and Facebook use their apps to collect user data. The main motive of making the Taiga smartphone is to protect the sensitive data of Russian citizens and corporations from getting leaked to the U.S. servers.
The company would be manufacturing 50,000 units of the TaigaPhone initially in China. It will be first made available to the workers of Russia companies that are co-owned by the government. Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates are the other markets that will be receiving Taiga. In Russia, the smartphone would be costing around 15,000 rubles (~$260). TaigaPhone has reached final stages of its production. It is a dual-SIM phone that features a 5-inch display and it features two cameras. Nothing much is known on the specifications of the phone.
The technological cold war between the U.S. and Russia is heating up and TaigaPhone is the latest example. U.S. President Donald Trump has recently banned the use of Kaspersky antivirus in the country citing risk to national security. The Trump administration has also directed the U.S. government agencies to remove all the products from Kaspersky Lab from their networks. On the other side, President of Russia Vladimir Putin is reducing the country’s reliance on U.S. based firms like Microsoft and IBM.