Probably every zoomer reading this article had their mother or grandmother voice their comments regarding the amount of disappointment he has brought onto their family.
Unfortunately, their old minds are too ignorant to comprehend the concept of a sigma male, and so, any explanations that you have real friends were as fruitless as socially-conservative-economically-liberal politicians. But regardless of their unwelcomed opinions you do actually have friends with which you talk quite frequently – online, that is.
A friendly banter between two keyboard-warriors can be extremely unfiltered for normie standards, hence, it is important to do it over a private and secure messaging service. That way you won’t sabotage your current or future job prospects by sharing fascist pepe frogs with your (definitely real) epic, based, and redpilled friends.
Email sucks and even your grandma hardly uses it now. Anything with three-degrees of connection to Zuck is considered to glow brighter than Chernobyl in 1986, so WhatsApp – though is a self-described end-to-end encrypted messaging service – must be avoided like… soon-to-be Russian Chernobyl. Without reaching down for secluded apps like Matrix-based Element, we are left with two choices: Telegram or Signal.
Both apps are popularly thought to be open-source, private, and secure. Both apps claim to be end-to-end encrypted and respect your privacy. Both apps might be recommended by your friends if you asked them for private messaging service.
So, which to choose?
A label “free and open-source” attached to a software is now very desirable for many companies. Shockingly even Nvidia – the greatest foe of freedom-loving gamers – announced to open source their GPU kernel modules.
It’s not uncommon then to hear some claim that Telegram too is “free and open source”. While it may be freeware and even have its API specifications as well as the end client open source, it’s far outside of the ambit of the dissident’s software ideal.
Other than not being truly open source, Telegram has a significant design flaw (from the POV of a dissident), namely, that it stores way too much data in not so secure places.
In this, VP at McAfee, Antony Demetriades, claims that if one creates a Telegram account from the UK, his data will be stored in rented data centres run by third parties. To maintain a façade of security, Telegram in their privacy policies says that this data is heavily encrypted and to this day they have “disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments”.
Unfortunately, we have no other choice than to trust their pinkie promise. The company claims that the data is stored on multiple servers in multiple jurisdictions so that a court order from each jurisdiction would be required for them to give up information. But, again, on a deeper level, it’s nothing but a promise; and promises tend to get broken, especially by “privacy” companies.
It shouldn’t surprise us then that the German media [Spiegel claims that Telegram has reported user data to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) on several occasions. The users were suspected on accounts of child abuse and terrorism, but that doesn’t really matter.
If Spiegel is indeed correct, it proves that Telegram has been lying to us for a while now. To be fair, they may have been forced to by law, but, again, that doesn’t matter. If you’re a political dissident you share interest with paedophiles, drug dealers, and other criminals when it comes to private communication – it must store no data on you.
We can try to give Telegram the benefit of the doubt and say that they would have maintained their integrity if they only could – the governments are simply too powerful. But where Telegram has made a mistake is in implementing E2E on the server side (rather than on the client side like Signal does) and in storing users’ sensitive data (in our case almost any data is sensitive), “encrypted ” or not.
With such features one cannot call Telegram a truly private messaging app. If there is a possibility that the government can lay their dirty hands on your personal information you must assume that they will or already have. Hence, whether Telegram stores data on multiple servers, “securely” encrypted, and what not, it’s no difference.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that Telegram has no place in the existing market – they can situate themselves in a nice spot where they are not actually private but still better than whatever Zuck made.
If you keep most of you chats as Secret Chats (as opposed to Cloud Chats), you will end up with a slightly worse Signal clone but keep the benefits of being able to follow your favourite political youtubers Telegram channels and not having to waste your time convincing your family and normie friends to transition to a less popular app.
However, if we are talking about a proper political dissident where any information given up to the feds is too much information given up to the feds, that’s still not good enough. What is required is a service that even if they are forced by law to give up user information, they give none or absolute minimum of it, so little that it’s completely useless. Just like Signal does.
The way Signal is built solves many problems that Telegram has for the price of less functionality. First, it’s actually open source: we can see inside the app and double-check that indeed they do what they say they do. Second, we know from their transparency reports that the only information the company possess on a user account identified by a phone number (that is, if feds don’t know the phone number of a user they want information on, they won’t get it) is the time of account creation and the date of the account’s last connection to Signal servers.
This is amazing, since it’s possible to create an account without giving your real number using one of the free online services that provide a temporary phone number. Clearly, then, we can see that Signal has set privacy as default, unlike Telegram. To have an end-to-end encrypted chat in Telegram one needs to enable it in settings, which means that 90% of users have never done it nor heard about it. (Note: all public chats are public Cloud Chats.)
Unfortunately, life is not simple and just switching to Signal is not enough. Your communications are as private as your phone is. If your mobile device was compromised it will make no difference whether you are using Signal, Telegram, or Facebook. For that to happen you don’t even need to download a virus, some custom keyboards will store and sell your data to third parties, and thus know all your messages you have ever typed on the device.
Even the default keyboard will track your typing habits – officially to provide you better word suggestions – and most likely store that data on cloud servers. Moreover, if you have climbed your way to the top of the fed watch list you might be served compromised versions of apps by Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
Besides, even if your messages will stay secret, information about who you are messaging and how frequently (i.e., the meta data) is much more difficult to hide, and for all intents and purposes you can land a prison sentence on that alone.
Most communication apps will ask you to get access to your contact list (which you should never grant), for example, a Signal-like app called Threema (popular in Germany) will upload it to their servers too.
It’s very dangerous, even if it’s stored “encrypted” – if such information was to be compromised by hackers or a government agency it would most likely be enough to uniquely identify a user. Hence, it’s best not to store all your contacts in one place, which may be very inconvenient and hard to implement unless your phone allows you to create multiple profiles. Additionally, an app like NetGuard (for Android and Lockdown for iOS) will help you manage apps’ permissions and ensure that neither your message app nor some completely irrelevant app like a calculator has access to your contact list.
It is essential then to maintain proper opsec at all times and try to create misinformation about yourself if possible. It requires comprehensive knowledge about IT, but don’t stress, whether you are a top hacker or not there’s always a non-zero probability that you will be found out and locked behind bars. The point of the game is to make it as hard as possible for your personal FBI agent – it will never be perfect, but you can certainly make their life harder with even small changes like starting Secret Chats with your mates or transitioning to Signal.
Overall, neither of the two apps is bad for everyday use, certainly, much better than WhatsApp. If you do not feel satisfied with either, there exist many alternatives that are not as popular such as Briar (great for secret communication among small, fixed groups of friends or for spies) or Session (also, a very promising service with TOR-like technology focused on elimination of meta-data). Here, I would like to caution anyone who will decide to use the less popular apps to note the jurisdiction they fall under. Australia is known for its hatred of God-given human rights as it was well shown in the last two years.
They are systematically making it harder for its citizens to maintain any vestige of privacy. Since, Session is based in this God-forsaken country, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to provide to its users what they truly desire as they said in their blog. While they are still fighting and deserve much support, we don’t know how long they will hold.
Lastly, neither Telegram nor Signal is a tabula rasa when it comes to fed involvement. Widely proclaimed threats to democracy and nests of white extremism, to this day, they stay strong. We know what the NWO can do when they actually get hurt on the example of Parler.
Quoting from Signal’s Wikipedia page: “Signal switched from AWS back to Google in April 2019.” Obviously then, if big brother and big tech were endangered by Signal, they would be able to easily erase it from the internet with a single snap of their fingers.
Furthermore, both apps received funding from the three-letter agencies (if only Wikipedia had “Early Funding” section…). When it comes to Telegram, it’s enough to check the Wiki. On the page of the co-founder and current CEO, Pavel Durov, we can find such gems as:
“a Russian-born French-Emirati entrepreneur”,
“IIn 2017, Pavel joined the World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders as a representative of Finland”.
I think that is enough to rest all counterclaims, so let’s move on to Signal. Here, the job is not as easy. There is circumstantial evidence such as previously mentioned hosting on Google servers (thankfully, hardly any user data hits Signal’s servers), but I think the most interesting part is the donations that Signal received here we can find claims that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (now U.S. Agency for Global Media) through Open Technology Fund (OTF) has provided Signal with a significant amount of financial help:
“Open Whisper Systems, maker of free encrypted text and voice mobile apps like TextSecure and Signal/RedPhone, got a generous $1.35-million infusion. (Facebook recently started using Open Whisper Systems to secure its WhatsApp messages.)”
A million may not sound like a lot, but we need to remember that it was given in the early stages of development when every dollar can decide the survival of the company.
Nevertheless, we should not be scared of using technology that comes from spineless programmers with glowing stick showed up their bottoms, especially if it’s fully open source, can be downloaded outside of Google Store, and is transparent about its dealings with federal organisations (I mean Signal here, not Telegram).
It is well known that TOR has been created by the U.S. Navy and yet nowadays you cannot seriously try to be anonymous without using it. Similarly, Signal (or its forks like Session) are now indispensable for political dissidents.