by J.P. Hicks
Big Brother is hoping to eliminate anonymous
digital communication, but a new messaging protocol may provide privacy
advocates a way around their snooping government no matter where they live.
It couldn't come at a better time as governments increasingly demand access
to private communications.
In fact, an FBI whistleblower
recently revealed that all digital communications are being recorded and
stored by the U.S. government:
Since most emails, instant messaging, and all voice calls (land line, cell
or internet) run through central service providers that database all user
activity, the government has easy access to this information upon request,
secret subpoenas or even
backdoors to these services to view private communications in real time.
Associated Press was recently violated by the Department of Justice who,
with a secret subpoena, forced service providers to hand over phone records
of AP's reporters and central offices.
The U.S. government claims the authority to track, trace, and database all
electronic communications in order to keep us safe. Despite the obvious
intrusion of privacy, it clearly has the intent to spy on all communications
and is actively seeking expanded legal cover and technological advances for
full spectrum digital surveillance.
Large central service providers make this nefarious goal possible.
But as the government cracks down on Web privacy, a new decentralized
communication protocol called Bitmessage has emerged to offer an easy way
for people to send and receive encrypted messages.
What is Bitmessage?
Bitmessage is a peer-to-peer encrypted messaging
protocol that allows people to communicate anonymously.
Bitmessage's official description is as follows:
Bitmessage is a P2P communications protocol
used to send encrypted messages to another person or to many
subscribers. It is decentralized and trustless, meaning that you
need-not inherently trust any entities like root certificate
It uses strong authentication which means
that the sender of a message cannot be spoofed, and it aims to hide
"non-content" data, like the sender and receiver of messages, from
passive eavesdroppers like those running warrantless wiretapping
Based loosely on
Bitcoin's open-source protocol, Bitmessage utilizes the computer power
of decentralized users to process the messages making them essentially
impossible to track. Addresses are made up of 36 random characters as
opposed to a name and other personal information that email services
Example Bitmessage address: BM‐2nTX1KchxgnmHvy9ntCN9r7sgKTraxczzyE
white paper, the Bitmessage developers emphasize that privacy was their
main motivation for creating it:
Hiding one’s identity is difficult. Even if
throw‐away email addresses are used, users must connect to an email
server to send and retrieve messages, revealing their IP address.
...if just one of those organizations is run by a government agency, and
if they have certain network hardware in place between users and
destination servers, then they would be able to perform a targeted
man‐in‐the‐middle attack of ostensibly secure communications at will...
What is needed is a communications protocol and accompanying
software that encrypts messages, masks the sender and receiver of
messages from others, and guarantees that the sender a message
cannot be spoofed, without relying on trust and without burdening
the user with the details of key management.
The addresses not only emphasize privacy but
guarantee sender verification:
While certainly more cumbersome than an
email address, it is not too much to type manually or it can be made
into a QR‐code. Users have already demonstrated this to be
acceptable as Bitcoin addresses are similar in format and length.
This address format is superior to email
in that it guarantees that a message from a particular user or
organization did, in fact, come from them. The sender of a message
cannot be spoofed.
Though it may sound complicated, Bitmessage
makes it easy for anyone to communicate anonymously.
Once the program is downloaded on your computer,
you just need to set "Your Identities", "Passphrase", and "Addresses" in
your Bitmessage folder which is much like a Bitcoin "wallet".
Then it works similarly to email where you choose from one of your "From"
addresses to compose a message to "Send" to another address. The message's
encryption is then "processed" by the peer-to-peer network of servers and
delivered to the recipient's "wallet" (Bitmessage folder) on their personal
The "stream" or "proof of work" takes roughly
four minutes to process the message to the recipient.
Bitmessage also offers a "broadcast" feature for mass announcements.
So if you run an organization, website or blog
with a newsletter, you can send anonymous "broadcasts" to subscribers.
Meanwhile, subscribers can sign up without giving out their email address or
anything that links them to the information.
Bitcoin has the potential to displace centralized currencies, Bitmessage may be the future of free and private communication. As the
government increases its Big Brother spying on average citizens, Bitmessage
proves that freedom will always find a way.
Watch the video below for more information about Bitmessage:
Get started with Bitmessage
Another great resource for how to
get started with Bitmessage.