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Signal team is looking for Android debug logs

Signal has been down for over 20 hours, and the cause of outage seems to be steep increase in the number of signups in the last few days.

In a recent update, Android developers from Signal asked for the community members’ logs:

Hi folks! Weโ€™re trying to track down an issue where Android devices may be sending too many messages. Given we have no metrics, the only way we can get more information is for yaโ€™ll to share your debuglogs. So please, regardless of whether you think your phone was acting funny, please post a debuglog here, or DM me if that makes you more comfortable.

If you are willing to help out as well, you may submit the debug logs here, or DM the author on their forum.

Signal’s explosive growth comes shortly after WhatsApp’s announcement of changes in their policies, which is further pushed by 3 months.

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Signal on GitHub trends

So cool to see Signal‘s repositories on the top 5 for this week on GitHub! If you have benefited from this open source, free, privacy-respecting software, you may consider supporting them with donations as well.

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Signal

I don’t have a WhatsApp (and Facebook) account, but I did hear about their terms change — users are required to accept to the new policies wherein WhatsApp data can now be shared with Facebook. As I understand, this does not impact the e2e (end-to-end encrypted) messages aspect of WhatsApp. It’s based on the Signal protocol and messages will continue to remain as private as possible.

Related Hacker News thread: WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using app.

What’s changing this time though, or better said, what’s made more explicit is that, other aspects of WhatsApp usage may now be shared with Facebook. Paul’s article here particular covers what’s changing in detail, and also backs up with relevant sources:

In practice, this means that WhatsApp shares a lot of intel with Facebook, including account information like your phone number, logs of how long and how often you use WhatsApp, information about how you interact with other users, device identifiers, and other device details like IP address, operating system, browser details, battery health information, app version, mobile network, language and time zone. Transaction and payment data, cookies, and location information are also all fair game to share with Facebook depending on the permissions you grant WhatsApp in the first place.

As I understood from a few other Hacker News and media articles, WhatsApp made another drive-by change: Removed text about not having access to private keys. This comment in particular highlights that an user’s opt-in for WhatsApp business account delegates access to Facebook, which as a vendor of WhatsApp Business API.

To most, this sharing of access may not matter, but I feel differently. Especially in a world where better, privacy-focussed options, like Signal and Telegram (only via secret chats) are available, it’s a no-brainer to consider these options. Mohan has covered some privacy-respective messenger app alternatives that you may like to read.

I have been a Signal user for many years, but have truly stood by it in the last year or so.

I am very pleased with their growth, especially in India, and I am pleased that most of my friends and family are moving over as well. If you haven’t moved yet, you may consider doing so today. We may as well read Brian Acton, Elon Musk and Edward Snowden’s work/tweets as an endorsement. It’s particularly interesting to know that WhatsApp co-founder (Brian Acton) left Facebook post acquisition, to infuse 50 million dollars in Signal.

Signal is a non-profit company, free, publishes their client-side and server-side code in the open, and promises unexpected focus on privacy. It’s among the very few apps (the only other platform that I know of is Matrix, but it’s riddled with bugs) in the market that offer synchronized, end-to-end encrypted messaging.

With their focus being on privacy, it’s natural that they are not able to offer advanced features like Telegram bots, and that’s okay.

I see that as a decent tradeoff.