Privacy Look adds disk wiping unlock code to your Android device

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 16, 2015
Google Android

Depending on where you live, you may be required to unlock your device when authorities ask you to do so. While you could deny that request, you could end up with a hefty fine and jail time as a consequence.

There may also be situations where you are not asked nicely to hand over the unlock code of your phone, but are pressured to do so.

Privacy Lock is an Android application that allows you to add actions to unlock codes that are executed when they are used.

The free version of the application is limited to one action only. If you configure it, it attempts to send an SMS message to a number that you have added during setup. You could use it to let someone know that you are in danger for example.

While that may be useful, the pro version's functionality offers several additional actions from clearing the call log to wiping the device.

Four additional actions can be configured in the pro version:

  1. Call log - This clears the call log on the device.
  2. SMS messages - This removes all SMS messages (but not chat messages in third party applications).
  3. Media - Deletes all video and image files.
  4. Wipe - Performs a full device wipe.

You configure actions in the program settings. There you select the desired action, assign an unlock code to it and add additional information if required. If you want to configure the send SMS action for example, you are asked to enter the recipients phone number. This is unfortunately not linked to your address book which means that you have to enter the number manually.

The app ships with a fail-safe that you should configure as well. When you press "9" 15 times and click unlock afterwards, the app emails a new code to unlock the device to a registered email address.

You don't have to configure this but if you forget the main unlock code, it may be your only hope of regaining access to your phone.

Using an application like this could get you in trouble as well if the opposing side finds out about it.  Another thing to consider is that disk recovery software may be able to recover some of the information deleted by the application.

Privacy Look is an interesting but niche application as most Android users are probably never going to get into troubles that the app can help with. There is also Android's remote wipe feature to consider which may be a better solution in some situations.

I can see this become a popular cheating application though considering that you can wipe or delete messages, images, videos and call logs from the device using it.

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Privacy Lock Free
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  1. Dante said on March 17, 2015 at 3:53 am

    U.S. and Canadian border officers can and will demand that you unlock your devices for their perverted paws to browse through. I would rather wipe the phone and have them confiscate it. Because I really want to see how far up the court system I can get with this.

  2. Zinc said on March 16, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Use this app at any border crossing…and they’ll simply keep your phone…

  3. MartinPC said on March 16, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I’m not sure why a “Five Eyes” country (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) would even need to unlock anyone’s phone — well, a resident’s phone, at the very least — since their intelligence services have presumably vacuumed up most of the data on it already. Maybe it’s a form of parallel construction to enable them to continue pretending they haven’t. In the US, at least, I believe the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures has been held not to apply to border entrants (ask Laura Poitras), so border crossings are the perfect opportunity to invade a citizen’s privacy without legal constraints.

    As for the app itself, I would think that loading a dummy profile or a sanitized profile might be more useful than a wipe. It still wouldn’t match communications metadata (call, texting, Internet records) held by third parties (and presumably by the government), but it would at least be facially plausible, so long as the inquisitors didn’t double-check. A wipe is an immediately detectable defensive reaction and arguably provides law enforcement probable cause to investigate further. [So, incidentally, is a timed lock-out.]

    Ugly business, ugly times. But, on the upside, “they” are going to have a much harder time “hating us for our freedoms”…

  4. Steve said on March 16, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Rather than a wipe – Why not a feature to lock the phone for a number of hours – e.g. 6 hours or 24 hours (and send email\SMS for unlock)
    Then if you are forced to enter PIN code, it will display a ‘Locked for xx hours’ screen and the people forcing you know there is nothing they can do for xx hours and so will go away.

    1. Jim said on March 16, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      Hi Steve

      If you think the people who are forceing you to give up the code will go away, I lik your optimism.

      If you are target by a orginsation (in this law enforcment) who can spend what they want. Also if they are asking you for the unlock code they probably have made you a person of intrest, sothere has to be a justerified reason to spend resources on getting the code.

  5. Jojo said on March 16, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Martin – If you are going to use star ratings on these reviews, you need to explain WHY you awarded the rating you did (in this case 3 of 5 stars).

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 16, 2015 at 10:08 am

      The rating is for the free version which is rather limited. I like the general idea of the application but would like to see additional features built-in. For instance, a feature that lets you combine multiple actions using one code or even custom actions that you can define.

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