The founder of the encrypted messaging service Signal has criticized rival Telegram for fake ads. Moxie Morlinspike’s claims relate to the security of user data (the “brainchild of Durov” allegedly claims absolute protection of information, when in reality the situation is quite the opposite).
“I am amazed that after all this time, almost all media covering Telegram still calls it ‘encrypted messaging.’ Telegram has many attractive features, but in terms of privacy and data collection, there is no worse option. This is how it works. In fact:
- Telegram stores all your contacts, groups, media, and all messages you’ve sent or received in clear text on its servers. The app on your phone is just a “view” of their servers, where the data is actually stored. Almost everything you see in the app can also be seen by Telegram.
- Here’s a simple test: uninstall Telegram, install it on a brand new phone, and sign up with your number. You’ll instantly see your entire conversation history, all your contacts, all the media you’ve shared, and all your groups. how? All of this was on their servers, in plain text.
- The confusion is that Telegram allows very limited “secret chats” (no groups, synchronous, no synchronization) nominally using e2ee, even if the security of the e2ee protocol they use is questionable. By default, e2ee is not, but they talk about it as if it was.
- FB Messenger also has a “secret chat” mode for e2ee, which is actually much less restrictive than Telegram (and also uses the best e2ee protocol), but nobody considers Messenger an “encrypted messenger”.
- Some may be satisfied with letting Telegram access all your data, messages, photos, contacts, groups, etc., because they “trust Telegram”. However, the point of Encrypted Messaging is that you do not need to trust anyone other than those you are communicating with.
- In fact, the privacy technology does not trust someone else with your data: the message you send should be visible only to you and the recipient. Information about the group should be visible only to its members. Viewing contacts should not reveal anyone else.
- Privacy technology is really about making the technology compatible with the user interface. But if Telegram’s user interface matches how the technology works, each chat will be a group chat with everyone who works on Telegram + everyone who hacks Telegram + all government agencies that have access to Telegram, etc.
- For those who write about this space, my request is that when you write “encrypted messaging” you should mean *at least* an application in which by default all messages are e2ee. Telegram and FB Messenger are designed in exactly the same way. None of them are “encrypted messengers”.
It is still unclear what exactly caused Morlinspike to create such a long match. You can learn about the long sermon “live” here.
Note that Durov is unlikely to leave Morlinspike’s speech without a proper answer. The discussion is expected to be very entertaining.
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