Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp is pouring $50 million into Signal, aiming to promote encrypted messaging and make it more ubiquitous.
The Signal Protocol is designed to protect messages and online communications against snooping, and it's already used in a number of encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and more, in addition to Signal Messenger. Acton, meanwhile, left Facebook and WhatsApp last year and is now getting more involved with Signal.
Open Whisper Systems Establishes Signal Foundation
Open Whisper Systems made the Signal encryption technology what it is today and is now establishing the Signal Foundation. Acton will be the executive chairman.
The Signal Foundation will be a non-profit focused on improving the Signal Messenger experience, at least at first. Eventually, it may also release other technologies designed for privacy.
"As more and more of our lives happen online, data protection and privacy are critical," Acton highlights in a joint statement with Signal Protocol Moxie Marlinspike. "Everyone deserves to be protected. We created the Signal Foundation in response to this global need. Our plan is to pioneer a new model of technology nonprofit focused on privacy and data protection for everyone, everywhere."
The Case For Encryption
Encrypted messaging has become more prominent in recent years as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden raised awareness of mass surveillance and more messaging apps implemented end-to-end encryption to keep communications private.
Encryption technology is still sparking controversy, however, with the FBI and other agencies arguing that it's very tough for them to crack and it favors terrorists, criminals, and other threatening entities by allowing them to plan their hits.
Technology companies, meanwhile, argue for the right to privacy and security, highlighting the importance of encrypted messaging to protect individuals. The Signal Foundation aims to make secure communications more ubiquitous and accessible.
Signal Foundation For Secure Communication
Signal has lacked the necessary resources to expand its operations and take its mission to the next level, but the new investments now make it possible. The $50 million investment will allow Signal to hire more people, increase its capacity, and set higher ambitions.
As the statement points out, the mission of the Signal Foundation is to deliver technology that allows for secure communication worldwide and protects free expression. The technology will remain open source. While it may be tough at first, Acton and Marlinspike hope that eventually, the Signal Foundation will be able to sustain itself as a non-profit acting in the public interest.