Facebook just finished rolling out end-to-end encryption feature to its messenger in every country, perhaps in response to the wave of similar encryption efforts by other chat providers. This sounds promising, allowing hundreds of millions of users to communicate through a better preserved privacy (Facebook claims), but just like many other features in Facebook, it has to be activated manually first. This solution is telling a lot about Facebook’s approach. While others like WhatsApp activate encryption by default (“When possible, the messages you send and your calls are secured with end-to-end encryption”) Facebook leaves this option for users to decide.
If I had to guess, the majority of users won’t even realize or bother turning this option on. The average user doesn’t know and doesn’t care about these solutions, and while waving the “we are covering you” flag is nice for demonstrating some commitment, it won’t really solve all privacy problems. Yeah, sure, many people will use this option, especially those who are aware enough, have something to hide from secret services or the police. Is this really the best direction, to allow shady things to go encrypted while the vast majority of users are still exposed?
Anyhow, Facebook’s new encryption feature uses Signal technology for securing messages. But do you know who is the messiah behind today’s allegedly NSA proof encryption?
His name is Moxie Marlinspike, at least that is how the world knows him. He was born as Matthew but, as he put it in an interview from 2011, for as long as he can remember, people have called him Moxie, Moxie Marlinspike. He is crazy about sailing and almost lost his life one time while doing it.
Marlinspike runs an open source project called Open Whisper Systems and he is the brain of Signal, believed to be the most secure encryption technology for communication. But he still keeps up that cool cypherpunk look in 2015. I would recommend a brilliant article from Wired if you want to know more about this extravagant outsider and genius, who doesn’t seem to care about business, journalists, money, fame or seemingly anything. Still his work is widely appreciated and has a significant influence on approaches to cyber security today.
You might have pictured something a bit different for “The Guardian of Privacy.”