Since Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs last summer, developers and tech companies like Google have been rushing to create tools that restore some semblance of security and privacy for Internet users. Tox, a Skype alternative that features instant messaging, call and video features, is the latest entry in that field.
Tox, developed by a group of 4chan members, is very much in its infancy and not without its problems, notes Wired. To ensure privacy, Tox adds encryption to its instant messaging capabilities and will connect users directly, much like a BitTorrent protocol. The peer-to-peer connection will eliminate the need for servers hosted by the Tox team, which means there is no user data stored for the NSA, or any government agency, to find.
"Nowadays, every government seems to be interested in what we're saying online. Tox is built on a 'privacy goes first' agenda, and we make no compromises. Your safety is our top priority, and there isn't anything in the world that will change that," states the Tox website. The team will also hire a security firm to test the encryption to ensure it is secure, notes Wired.
Other examples of encrypted messaging systems include the Briar messaging app, which aims to offer p2p encrypted forums and instant messaging, and the Invisible.im project, "an instant messenger and file transfer tool that leaves virtually no evidence of conversations or transfers," according to Wired. Peter Sunde, a founder of the Pirate Bay sharing site, is also working on an "NSA-proof" text messaging app that combines a slick interface with security features.
As with any new product, there are a few bugs and some features, such as group video chat, are missing, reports Wired. Tox plans on eventually rolling out official apps for Windows, iOS, Linux, OS X and Android.