Three signals of a more privacy-friendly messaging app

15 January 2021  PRIVACY

Does your messaging app truly respect your privacy? Here are a few simple questions to ask to get a helpful answer. Plus, we tell you which messaging tool sends us all the right signals.

When a friend visits your home, you probably take for granted that your conversations are private. And the idea of someone keeping track of when you come and go, who visits, and how long they stay is something only found in a gripping thriller, right?

Now that most of our interactions have gone online, how do you know that your digital communications and encompassing habits are also private? Here are few ways to tell if a messaging app is privacy-friendly.

1. Does it use end-to-end encryption?

While it’s a buzzphrase, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) used in messaging apps ensures that the content of your chats can’t be accessed by anyone (not even the app provider) except you and your conversation partner(s).

2. Why is it free?

In a world of big data, when you don’t pay for a product or service, it’s very likely that you are the product. Find out how the company is otherwise funded and what its long-term goals are.

3. Do the terms of service promote privacy?

E2EE is all well and good, but the app may be collecting unnecessary metadata about your usage or device. The company’s terms of service agreement is a great place to read which data is collected, how that data is used, and if it’s shared with third parties.

Signal sends all the right ones

If you’re on the hunt for a privacy-worthy messaging app, take a look at Signal, an open-source option that we have used for years. Here’s how it measures up against our own set of questions:

  • Signal uses end-to-end encryption.
  • Signal is owned and funded by the nonprofit Signal Foundation whose mission is “to develop open source privacy technology that protects free expression and enables secure global communication.”
  • Signal’s terms of service states that it “does not sell, rent or monetize your personal data or content in any way - ever.”

As always, do your homework! Your privacy, now and in the future, is worth it!