2020 and into 2021, there has been a lot of noise about censorship and privacy in regards to the Internet. Recently, messaging applications have also been part of this conversation. With controversy surrounding WhatsApp’s new data policies, many users are looking for alternative ways to communicate privately. Let’s take a look at some options.
- Signal. Signal is an open source messaging app that is fully encrypted. Open source means that practically anyone can check and make sure it is in fact, encrypted and private. Vanishing messages, encrypted SMS, video calling are a few of the available options on this app. It isn’t the prettiest but it is considered the best of the best when it comes to private encrypted communication.
- Telegram. What Signal lacks in functionality and options, Telegram makes up for it. End to end encryption is not enabled by default so, the user needs to take care on that issue. Another negative is that it is not open source so while it uses encryption methods almost identical to Signal, there have been less third party audits of the app. Still, when used properly, Telegram is a solid option with tons of functionality.
- Silence. A spinoff of Signal, Silence uses SMS/MMS protocols to keep your data encrypted. While this may be considered a positive, it does come with drawbacks. Limited functionality and, of course although your actual texts are encrypted, your service provider can see the number of whomever you are communicating with. There are some other unique benefits like screenshot prevention but this app may be best used in conjunction with another Web app such as Signal.
- Threema. Threema is a bit unique and very secure. It does not store any data on its servers so basically, all contact details and communication that goes through the app is immediately deleted. That means the files are only on your phone, not in their servers. You do not need to sign in with any identifiable details which also makes it more secure. All in all, it has functionality and privacy which makes it a good option.
- WhatsApp. Yes, WhatsApp still makes the list. Why? Because it is an encrypted, fairly private way to communicate with lots of functionality. And, it is still widely used. It uses the same encryption offered by Signal so, the major drawback is the parent company. Facebook. While Facebook says they cannot read your messages, they are gathering data including location, phone, any purchases made through the app etc. So, you are still feeding Big Brother even if your communication may remain private.