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BitTorrent Bleep ‘secure’ messenger released as alpha

Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

August 1, 2014

BitTorrent, the company behind the BitTorrent and uTorrent clients, and the rather funky secure Dropbox alternative BitTorrent Sync, has opened its new secure messaging app up for beta testing.

Unsurprisingly, Bleep is based on BitTorrent technology, which means that there are no central servers involved, so messages are not stored anywhere they can’t be accessed by big brother government agencies, and importantly, no metadata is stored.

Data is also encrypted end-to-end ‘using secure encryption protocols such as curve25519, ed25519, salsa20, poly1305, and others. Links between nodes are encrypted.’ There is also no central lookup, so users must find each other through their email addresses, telephone number, or user name.

When signing up for the service you are asked for an email address or telephone number, but there is also an incognito mode for those who wish to remain anonymous.

bleep-chat-infographic

In a blog post, BitTorrent product manager Farid Fadaie explained that,

And then we built Bleep as a consumer application. One that will use this infrastructure to allow a messaging experience for people to speak freely without worrying about who might be eavesdropping. And, as we recently discussed, these eavesdroppers may simply be nosey friends trying to listen in on personal conversations.

BitTorrent has asked alpha testers not to post screenshots or reviews online, so after playing with the client we will simply report (for now) that it appears to work well.

Unfortunately there is one really big fly in the ointment. Bleep is a closed source app, and BitTorrent has given no indication that this is likely to change. This is hugely disappointing, as although BitTorrent has a good track record for being a privacy conscious company, it is still asking us just to take their word for it that the system is secure.

The concept behind Bleep is really great, but unless the code is released as open source for independent developers to scrutinize, we unlikely to ever recommend it.

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