Say Hello to Privacy with SIGNAL

In a world where we feel like someone is peeping over our shoulders every time we enter our details anywhere on the internet, Signal came forward as a trustworthy option, or at least that is what it claims.
The Signal is a messaging app administered by a non-profit organization called Signal Foundation, founded by Moxie Marlinspike and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.

Marlinspike, eager to reduce authorities’ surveillance on messages exchanged by general people over digital platforms, developed a user-friendly technical solution, called the Textsecure Protocol (later the Signal Protocol), for end-to-end encryption of data. Based on this protocol, in 2010, he developed a text messaging and a phone calling app which later in 2014 were merged to form Signal.

Initially, $3 Million funds provided by the Open Technology Fund, a Congress-funded non-profit organization, kept the app running.
Though the app provided a secure network it wasn’t as user-friendly as Marlinspike wanted it to be back then. Thus he approached Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp, and together they successfully integrated signal protocol to encrypt WhatsApp conversations in 2016.

But in Sept 2017, Acton left WhatsApp due to his concerns regarding Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp, introducing new policies to extract information from the users. Brian teamed up with Marlinspike and invested $50 million to set up the Signal Foundation to make Signal reach great heights. Through Acton’s money and other external sources of funds, Signal focused on making the app more user-friendly and adding more features.

The Influx of New Users on Signal

Elon Musk, the Tesla Inc. CEO, tweeted “Use Signal” on January 7, 2021, allegedly referring to the messaging app that brought a surge of new users from other platforms to Signal. The sudden increase in the number of downloads was overwhelming.
Between Jan 6 and 10, Apple and Google Play recorded nearly 7.5 million downloads of the app.

In February, WhatsApp announced its updated privacy policy, which generated mistrust among the users, which pushed the deadline to comply with the new policy by Facebook in May. But this did not counter people’s fear of breach of privacy by the tech giant, which prompted them to look for alternate messaging platforms and eventually led them to Signal, bringing in more users.

The Signal became popular among users for the distinguishable privacy features that it provides.
There is no cloud storage for the data within the Signal app, all of which is locally stored on our devices. It very well differentiates Signal from other messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram that store data on the cloud.
Signal also encrypts the metadata of each user and allows both senders and receivers to exchange messages without disclosing their identities through the Sealed Sender feature.

Signal only collects the phone number of its users, whereas other apps collect user ID, contact information, location, contact information, email address, etc. Via the app, which makes it the most secure and private mode of communication. One of the reasons Signal is gaining trust is that it cannot share data even if it wanted to or is pressurized to do so because of its end-to-end encryption protocol which makes the data inaccessible even for the creators of the app. Signal says, “cannot decrypt or otherwise access the content of your messages or calls.”

Signal stands true to its tagline, ‘’Say Hello to Privacy’’ for its users and provides a safe and untraceable network to facilitate communications without fear of intrusion by outsiders. 

Written by- 

Taniya (Member of THRUST: E – Cell)

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