Sam Bankman-Fried Could Bring Back an Old Technology (Not By Choice)

Prosecutors may want Sam Bankman-Fried to flip, but it’s not what you think.

Flip phones haven’t been a thing since Tom Brady only had one super bowl ring and Paris Hilton was rocking a $300 rhinestone-encrusted Sidekick back at the turn of the century.

That was then and this is now, as flip phones are making a comeback, even in the legal proceedings surrounding disgraced cryptocurrency king Sam Bankman-Fried.

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SBF’s Life Isn’t Getting Any Easier

Prosecutors in charge of Bankman-Fried’s fraud case have reportedly asked the pressing judge Lewis Kaplan to limit SBF’s cell phone usage to a flip phone, which doesn’t possess the encrypted technology protection available in today’s generation of electronic devices.

The request came in a letter sent on March 3 to Judge Kaplan, noting that Bankman-Fried may have been using a smartphone to communicate with associates where data cannot be tracked.

Kaplan has already stated concerns that Bankman-Fried might have to go to jail if his electronic communications couldn’t be properly monitored. Currently, Bankman-Fried is free on a $250 million bail and is confined to his parent’s Palo Alto, California home. He’s charged with financial fraud and cheating investors linked to his FTX cryptocurrency enterprise.

In the March 3 letter to Kaplan seeking technology-using limits on Bankman-Fried, prosecutors asked that Bankman-Fried’s cell phone use be limited to voice-only calls and to SMS text messages, which are traceable on older flip phones.

The letter also noted that Bankman-Fried’s new laptop computer should “be configured so that he is only able to log on to the internet through the use of specified VPNs, and that the VPNs only permit the defendant to access websites that have been whitelisted through the VPNs.”

Flip Phones Aren’t Widely Used Anymore

Currently, flip phones remain relatively limited in consumer usage, although younger consumers have begun buying flip phones in higher numbers, reportedly due to a desire to “unplug” from mobile apps, social media, and other widely-trafficked telecommunications platforms.

In the U.S. flip phones only account for 5% of the overall mobile phone market, with about five million flip phones shipped in 2021, versus approximately 153 million smartphones. Globally, flip phones do moderately better, comprising 17% of the mobile handset marketplace.

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