Outspoken encryption enthusiast Kim Dotcom has promised the imminent arrival of his Skype rival, Mega’s fully-encrypted video call and chat platform, which will be positioned as a pipeline for free-speech. The service, currently referred to as MegaChat, will support all the key features of existing popular messaging clients, only with the added promise of no backdoors being provided to the US government, Dotcom claims, pointing out that it’s already in fact been used in public by high-profile leakers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. News of the app comes as fresh revelations from Snowden’s NSA documents finger several services as being targeted by the spy agency.
According to documents shared by Germany’s Der Spiegel this weekend, the National Security Agency’s primary fears were around Tor, Tails, and TrueCrypt. Rated on the NSA’s own criteria for danger – which take into account potential impact and use risk, and from which allocations of resources for cracking or compromising them are made – the three encryption services were those which gave the Agency’s cryptographers the most sleepless nights.
The document – and the NSA’s level of understanding – has almost certainly been superseded since Snowden leaked it nearly two years ago.
While many mainstream users may not be familiar with any of those three software headaches, services like Skype aren’t so lucky. According to the NSA documentation, “sustained Skype collection began in February 2011,” though Microsoft has insisted that it “will not provide governments with direct or unfettered access to customer data or encryption keys.”
However the data is accessed, Dotcom is promising an alternative with security baked in from the ground up. “No US based online service provider can be trusted with your data,” he argues, going on to accuse Skype of providing the US government with backdoor access to Skype.
Mega will soon release a fully encrypted and browser based video call & chat service including high-speed file transfers. Bye bye Skype :-)
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) December 29, 2014
That’s one feature “MegaChat” won’t offer, Dotcom says, though others have already apparently found favor with Snowden and Assange. The service was used – with encryption active – during a “Moment of Truth” streaming appearance by both in September this year.
Details of how the service might be priced – if, indeed, there’s a fee involved – and when exactly it could be released have not been shared. Nor is it known whether it will be desktop only, or offer a mobile version.
VIA Der Spiegel