AN APPLICATION called TextSecure, which was available on iOS and apparently had some sort of appeal for Edward Snowden, has made its way onto Android at a time when Google is about to be told that such stuff is a no-no under a reignited Snoopers' Charter.
This is more than a name change, however. The firm behind it, Open Whisper Systems, said in a blog post that it has combined the existing TextSecure and RedPhone systems into one thing called Signal. TextSecure users should enjoy an easy transition through a software update.
"Today we've started rolling out Signal for Android, which unites simple private messaging and simple private calling into a single app on Android. This is the culmination of our effort to combine TextSecure and RedPhone into one app, which we began on iPhone and are now bringing to completion on Android," explained the firm.
"Over the next few days, users with TextSecure installed will get a normal update that brings a new name. The new version includes all the existing functionality of TextSecure, plus the ability to make and receive private calls with other Signal users."
Redphone users have a bit of a challenge, and anyone running that application should maybe just delete it and start again with Signal.
Signal offers a strong and appealing message, but it is very poorly timed, in the UK at least. "Signal uses your existing phone number and address book. There are no separate log-ins, user names, passwords or PINs to manage or lose," said the firm.
"We cannot hear your conversations or see your messages, and no-one else can either. Everything in Signal is always end-to-end encrypted and painstakingly engineered to keep your communication safe."
If David Cameron is reading this, and not The Daily Mail, we imagine he has just hurled his cornflakes at the nearest wall. The UK is reportedly about to announce plans to ban encrypted communications, although not without opposition.
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, suggested that the Investigatory Powers Bill, under which this directive falls, will not have a smooth passage.
"This is likely to be a distraction from the real debate about powers for bulk data collection. It seems impractical that the government could impose such a ban on companies that are based outside the UK," he said. µ
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