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April 18, 2013

Burners Back in Business: Anonymity Apps for Android and iOS

Is someone listening in? Is this a secure line? Smartphone owners need not ask those questions any more now that new technology available for download on Android and iOS can temporarily turn your mobile point of access to the world at large into a burnable phone.

Those familiar with the term “burner” may be picturing their favorite television drug dealers from Breaking Bad or The Wire dramatically breaking cell phones so that their numbers can’t be traced by snoopy police. Gone are the days when privacy cost a trip around the block to a payphone or to Radio Shack to buy a prepaid phone. These apps temporarily register your device with a new number for those precarious situations when you need to call someone but would rather not give them access to your real contact information.

Despite Google’s persistence to proliferate the world with Android, iOS users still get the wider variety of choice when deciding how they want to hide from the public. All of the top apps are available for iPhone users, and two are there for those running Android. Burner, Hushed, LineUp, and YOOnumbers exist to make you stop worrying about ending up on call lists or in the address books of unwanted contacts.

Every one of these privacy programs offers a new temporary number, and all but YOOnumbers allows for the user to make calls. The best of the bunch, Burner, available for both platforms, acts as if you had a completely different phone, giving you voicemail service, SMS, and the ability to terminate the number at your convenience. It’s perfect for online classifieds to meeting people at bars. Need to make international calls? Hushed allows for SMS in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Of course, this kind of service can’t be free. These apps generally run on a credit system. You purchase credits in the app interface and apply them to acquire text messaging services, additional call minutes, and additional numbers. Packages can be purchased through each app’s interface allowing for additional text messaging, more minutes, and extra numbers.

These secure lines are incapable of calling emergency services, but for anyone other than the 911 operator, apps like Burner can make finding your personal phone line as private as your social security number. In a time when the dramatic growth in data is already making telecommunication more difficult to monitor and regulate, it has never been easier for a phone owner to hide themselves.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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