HomeWinBuzzer NewsTelegram CEO Blasts Signal's Security and US Government Links

Telegram CEO Blasts Signal’s Security and US Government Links

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov claims that Signal's encryption is not entirely secure, suggesting that users' messages have surfaced in court cases or media reports.

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CEO Pavel Durov has criticized competitor Signal, alleging that the messaging service lacks security and has connections to US intelligence agencies. Durov shared his views on his Telegram channel, making several claims against the rival app, including doubts about its end-to-end , software transparency, and alleged ongoing ties to the US government.

Allegations and Source of Criticism

Durov's remarks appear to be influenced by a City Journal article that explores Signal's origins, noting a $3 million grant from the US government's Open Technology Fund. The article suggests potential links between Signal and US intelligence, highlighting that Katherine Maher, the current chair of the Signal Foundation, previously worked for the National Democratic Institute, a US-backed NGO. Maher has also held significant roles at Wikimedia and National Public Radio (NPR), and served on the Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

Encryption and Court Cases

The Telegram CEO claims that Signal's encryption is not entirely secure, suggesting that users' messages have surfaced in court cases or media reports. He implies that this is due to flaws in the app's encryption. However, Durov does not provide specific examples, instead citing “important people” he has spoken to. It is speculated that he may be referring to the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, where Signal messages were used as evidence, although it is more likely that the messages were provided by recipients to federal prosecutors. There are no public reports confirming Signal messages leaking due to encryption failures.
 
Pavel Durov Signal Telegram message

Software Transparency and Reproducibility Issues

Durov also criticizes Signal for not allowing users to reproduce the iOS version of the app, which would verify that the App Store version matches the open-source code. Johns Hopkins professor Matthew Green explains that reproducibility is challenging on iOS due to Apple's encryption of apps, a problem that also affects Telegram's iOS app. Reproduction is possible on Android, which does not encrypt apps in the same way.

Signal's User Base and High-Profile Endorsements

Signal has been downloaded by more than 100 million users and boasts high-profile endorsements from NSA leaker Edward Snowden and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk. The technology behind Signal was initially funded, in part, through a $3 million grant from the government-sponsored Open Technology Fund (OTF), which was spun off from Radio Free Asia. Some insiders have argued that the connection between OTF and U.S. intelligence is deeper than it appears.

Leadership and Potential Conflicts of Interest

Katherine Maher, the current chair of the Signal Foundation, ran digital-communications initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa for the National Democratic Institute during the Arab Spring period. Maher became CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation in 2016 and was named CEO of National Public Radio earlier this year. Meredith Whittaker, who became president of the Signal Foundation in 2022, recruited Maher to become board chair because of their mutual connections to OTF and nonprofits such as Access Now.
 
analyst J. Michael Waller has expressed concerns about Maher's presence on the board of Signal, citing her past support for censorship and apparent intelligence connections. David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of the popular Ruby on Rails web-development framework, also expressed doubts about Signal's trustworthiness under Maher's board leadership.
 
Durov's comments come shortly after he hinted at a potential initial public offering (IPO) for Telegram, suggesting a financial motive for criticizing rival services. Both Telegram and Signal have been contacted for comments but have not yet responded.

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.

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