Meredith Whittaker, the president of the foundation behind the messaging app Signal, lamented the French government’s decision to ban officials from using the app, calling the decision “dangerously misleading.”
Whittaker’s comments came after French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne requested all high-ranking government officials to use the locally developed Olvid app. French media outlet Le Point said that France’s government doesn’t want officials using WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal, saying that the messaging apps are not immune to security flaws.
French media reports were independently confirmed to Reuters, with Borne’s office adding that top staff should deploy the Olvid app on phones and computers.
According to Whittaker, it’s one to promote a local messaging app, but insinuating that Signal has security flaws is a step too far, saying that such claims are “not backed by any evidence” and are “dangerously misleading,” coming from a government official.
“If you want to use a French product, go for it! But don’t spread misinfo in the process. Signal is independently audited, open source, and our protocol has been tested for >10yrs. We are serious about responsible disclosure,” Whittaker said on X.
The memo sent to French top staff said that while consumer instant messaging apps play an increasingly important role in our daily comms, they are “not without security flaws, and so cannot guarantee the security of conversations and information shared via them.”
Olvid is developed by a Paris-based startup run by two cryptography researchers and backed by several French tech accelerators.
Earlier this month, Signal Foundation, the nonprofit behind the privacy-focused messaging app, revealed that it currently spends $14 million on infrastructure and might need a lot more to cover costs in the coming years.
The foundation said it wants to remain focused exclusively on privacy without outside pressures forcing it to make sacrifices – underscoring the importance of donations.
“To put it bluntly, as a nonprofit, we don’t have investors or profit-minded board members knocking during hard times, urging us to “sacrifice a little privacy” in the name of hitting growth and monetary targets,” the foundation said.
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