The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications.
The instruction appeared on internal messaging boards in early February, notifying employees that “Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging.”
The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology.
“It’s like Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage but it’s based on an encryption protocol that’s very innovative,” said Bart Preneel, cryptography expert at the University of Leuven. “Because it’s open-source, you can check what’s happening under the hood,” he added.
Privacy experts consider that Signal’s security is superior to other apps’. “We can’t read your messages or see your calls,” its website reads, “and no one else can either.”
The use of Signal was mainly recommended for communications between staff and people outside the institution. The move to use the application shows that the Commission is working on improving its security policies.
Promoting the app, however, could antagonize the law enforcement community.
Officials in Brussels, Washington and other capitals have been putting strong pressure on Facebook and Apple to allow government agencies to access to encrypted messages; if these agencies refuse, legal requirements could be introduced that force firms to do just that.
American, British and Australian officials have published an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in October, asking that he call off plans to encrypt the company’s messaging service. Dutch Minister for Justice and Security Ferd Grappehaus told POLITICO last April that the EU needs to look into legislation allowing governments to access encrypted data.
Cybersecurity officials have dismissed calls to weaken encryption for decades, arguing that it would put the confidentiality of communications at risk across the board.
Finally, an organisation showing some sense!