Published by The Lawfare Institute 
                  in Cooperation With
                                 On Saturday night, we h

At Signal, A Revolution in Messaging

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2024-05-16 14:30:12

Published by The Lawfare Institute in Cooperation With

On Saturday night, we had dinner with Meredith Whittaker, the president of Signal, an encrypted messaging app for instant messaging, voice, and video calls. We ordered pasta in a Munich restaurant, about a mile away from where Hitler had announced the reestablishment of the Nazi Party almost exactly a century ago. We discussed how fragile open societies looked. Then we spoke about encryption, phone numbers, and a terrifying Stasi prison. 

End-to-end encryption keeps messaging private between end users, thus hiding content from service providers and anybody trying to peak in in the middle. Default end-to-end encryption has been ubiquitous for about a decade now—at least on certain apps. iMessage, Apple’s messaging application, had built-in encryption from the day it was announced, in 2011. WhatsApp, today owned by Meta, started rolling out end-to-end encryption nearly ten years ago, in late 2014. Both platforms were vastly more secure, more reliable, and more convenient than highly insecure and clunky SMS messaging. 

WhatsApp will likely surpass 3 billion monthly active users in over 180 countries sometime this year— that’s roughly three-eighths of humanity. Apple’s iMessage estimates over 1 billion active monthly users. Signal, while significantly smaller with around 70 million active users, boasts a dedicated following.

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