Secure Messaging App Signal Launches ‘The Signal Foundation’ With $50 Million Investment From WhatsApp Co-Founder Brian Acton
Andy Greenberg, Wired:
In the four or so years since it launched, end-to-end encrypted messaging app Signal has become the security community’s gold standard for surveillance-resistant communications. Its creators have built an encryption protocol that companies from WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger to Skypehave all added to their own products to offer truly private conversations to billions of people. And it’s done so as a non-profit with, at any given moment, a tiny staff that includes just two or three full-time coders. […]
On Wednesday, the creators of Signal announced the launch of the Signal Foundation, which will build and maintain Signal and potentially other privacy-focused apps to come, too. WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton has also joined as the foundation’s executive chairman, his first new role since leaving WhatsApp last fall. And Acton’s not only devoting the next phase of his post-WhatsApp career to Signal, but a fair-sized chunk of his WhatsApp billions, too: He’s personally injecting $50 million into the project.
If you follow the information security crowd, you’ll quickly pick up on a general cynicism towards technology. Who can blame them? Between the Internet of (unsecured) Things and this quarter’s rendition of guess which retailer leaked your credit card, there’s plenty of room for criticism.
However, whenever I see Signal come up, it really does seem to live up to that “gold standard” label. It’s not perfect, and the app has some problems, but the encryption code is peer reviewed and open source, and it’s trusted by some of the biggest public targets in the world. The United States Senate uses it, and, famously, Signal is Edward Snowden’s preferred messaging app.
Sidestepping my own cynicism that comes out whenever “loved app X takes large investment from vc/company Y,” it’s heartening to see the Signal team get a little structure and financial breathing room. I hope the money goes to fund further development and stability of the service, while avoiding the distractions or gimmicky features — like stories — that every messaging app seems to have these days. Signal is not like other messaging apps, and that’s a good thing. The world needs an incredibly secure, focused messaging protocol, and Signal’s now got the resources to continue building just that.