Security Market Segment LS
Thursday, 22 February 2018 09:27

Signal Foundation set up to spread use of private communications


The head of the developers behind the Signal messenger app, that provides end-to-end encryption, is setting up a non-profit foundation to further the making of private communication accessible and ubiquitous.

Cryptography expert Moxie Marlinspike, who also runs Open Whisper Systems that develops the Signal protocol, said in a blog post that the Signal Foundation had been created by Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp which was bought by Facebook.

Acton left WhatsApp and Facebook in 2017 and Marlinspike said he had been "thinking about how to best focus his future time and energy on building nonprofit technology for public good".

He said that Signal had been started with the vision that private communication could be simple, at a time when "the industry consensus was largely that encryption and cryptography would remain unusable".

Since then, some progress had been made, he said. And this was underlined "When we ask friends who at their workplace is on Signal and they respond 'every C-level executive, and the kitchen staff'. When we receive a subpoena for user data and have nothing to send back but a blank sheet of paper. When we catch that glimpse of 'Signal blue' on a metro commuter’s phone and smile".

Marlinspike said while OWS always wanted to do more, over the lifetime of Signal, "here have only been an average of 2.3 full-time software developers, and the entire Signal team has never been more than seven people".

He said the foundation would start with an initial US$50 million in funding and that it would bring to fruition the vision of running Signal as a full non-profit.

Acton said: "The Signal Foundation’s mission is to develop open source privacy technology that protects free expression and enables secure global communication.

"Moxie and I share a belief that the best way to continue to ensure the universal availability of high-security and low-cost communications services like Signal is to do so through a foundation structure that is free of the inherent limitations of a for-profit company. Ultimately, our goal is to make the Signal Foundation financially self-sustaining."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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