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Twitter Buys Crypto Tech, Then Open-Sources It

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, December 20 2011

Twitter has released the source code to TextSecure, the encrypted SMS messaging application created by Whisper Systems, which it acquired earlier this year, and promises more releases to come.

The code is available under the GNU General Public License — among the open-sourciest of open-source arrangements — and is up on Github.

Nancy Scola, who used to run things around here if you recall, has framed Twitter's acquisition of the two-person startup Whisper Systems as a play by the social media company to bolster its support of users. There's more there, actually: It's a play, per Scola, to bolster support of users, potentially against any state that happened to want to look over those users' shoulders online. She focuses more on how it may be an effort on Twitter's part to do better at offering privacy for users in general — but Twitter has also sought to be supportive of users during law enforcement investigations of Wikileaks, for example.

TextSecure is one of a suite of tools Whisper's Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson have built for users of the Android operating system. The full gamut includes applications for encrypted voice, full disk encryption, network firewalls, encrypted backups and more — but Twitter isn't ready to release all of that yet. TextSecure is the first step.

With the source code for TextSecure, mobile developer Nathan Freitas explains, any manufacturer who wants to could bundle it into the software their phones come with out of the box.

In a release on Twitter's developer blog, the company's Chris Aniszczyk writes:

Before we fully release Whisper Systems’ code to the public in the coming months, we need to make sure it meets legal requirements and is consumable by the open source community. The plan is to open source the code in an iterative fashion, starting today with TextSecure, which provides support for encrypted texts on Android devices. We hope individuals will continue to find it useful and build upon it.

Via Nancy Scola

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