What's that? Encryption's OK now? UK politicos Brexit from Whatsapp to Signal
Take a break from calling for the end of e2e, so they can switch encrypted chat apps
It's not just the European Union the UK's ruling party wishes to leave. According to the Guardian, the recently victorious Conservative party is switching from WhatsApp to Signal, in order to accommodate its new influx of MPs.
Unlike WhatsApp, which has a hard limit of 256 members for a group, Signal supports an unlimited number of participants.
The switch to Signal will also allow the Conservative party to stem the flow of leaks emerging from its inner circle.
Earlier this year, Buzzfeed published internal WhatsApp conversations that showed trepidation among Tory parliamentarians that members in marginal seats may lose to the Labour party. Other leaked messages highlighted division within the party, particularly over the fundamental issue of Brexit.
For its part, Labour relied on closed WhatsApp groups to disseminate its general election messages widely, with controversial org Momentum using it to issue "WhatsApp cascades" on polling day, shared on with an estimated 400,000 "young people", amongst other allegations about secret WhatsApp groups.
Like WhatsApp, Signal has end-to-end encryption baked in, preventing a foreign power or individual from accessing sensitive conversations. In addition, it also includes settings, which, when enabled, self-destructs messages after a period of time.
Unfortunately, Signal doesn't allow group moderators to block individuals from taking screenshots, which would frustrate the process of leaking a conversation to the press.
There is a tinge of irony in politicians adopting an encrypted messaging system like Signal.
British government officials have for years called upon tech firms to break encryption to facilitate the access of conversations to law enforcement — most notably former Home Sec and PM Theresa May, and later former Home Sec Amber Rudd but more lately current UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Erstwhile Prime Minister David Cameron even proposed banning online messaging applications that support end-to-end encryption.
That notwithstanding, Signal is increasingly used in governmental spheres. In 2017, the US Senate Sergeant at Arms approved the app as a communications tool for staffers and legislators alike.
The app has also been endorsed by Edward Snowden, the fugitive former CIA employee, who disclosed the depth of US government surveillance against the general public. ®