Digital Assets: WhatsApp Alternative Signal Said To Be Developing Crypto Payments

January 26, 2021 | Digital Assets, News

Signal, the encrypted and privacy-focused messaging app maybe toying with integrating crypto payments.

An investigation report by Platformer’s Casey Newton says messaging app Signal, which promotes privacy through end-to-end encryption, without any commercial motive, is in turmoil. Downloads of the app after Facebook’s proposed privacy changes have gone through the roof. An employee told Newton that the app boasts of 40 million users globally. But proposed new features in the app have raised concerns amongst employees and some have left.

Signal: Security concerns

Employees fear that some of the new developments may allow the messaging platform to be used by bad actors with ulterior motives. This could draw the ire of regulators and thereby threaten the platform’s encryption technology.

According to one disgruntled employee, Gregg Bernstein, Signal has no policies and mechanisms to identify and remove these users.

For example, a theoretical question. How would the platform respond if an extremist organization posted a Signal group chat link publicly in an effort to recruit members and coordinate violence?

Unfortunately, Signal appears to rely on the stipulation in its terms of use that people cannot use the app to violate the law.

Further, it does not consider active moderation. (Bernstein: The logic is that its employees cannot see the content on their network; hence the app does not need a robust content policy.)

Impossible to trace crypto

Another concern is the likelihood of the integration of MobileCoin, or some such crypto, as a payment functionality into Signal.

MobileCoin, a cryptocurrency built on the Stellar blockchain is designed to make payments simple and secure. Potentially, they are also impossible to trace. Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike served as an advisor to MobileCoin.

Therefore, the apprehension is that adding cryptocurrencies to Signal could again draw the unwelcome attentions of bad actors and regulators.

Former employees revealed that the platform has devoted substantial resources in recent quarters to MobileCoin integration.

Balancing act

Says Marlinspike: “I want us as an organization to be really careful about doing things that make Signal less effective for those sort of bad actors if it would also make Signal less effective for the types of actors that we want to support and encourage.”

However, Bernstein disagreed. He said things could be done to stop the messaging service from “becoming a tool for tragic events” without damaging its integrity.

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