Home Security Signal Foundation set up to spread use of private communications

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

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.