Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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BitTorrent has designed a new piece messaging software that promises privacy from government surveillance. The tool is called Bleep, and BitTorrent claims it protects users’ metadata and identities. Communications software has always been prone to government surveillance programs. Bleep is BitTorrent’s solution to servers, which are vulnerable to government surveillance. But critics say that the NSA’s spying capabilities should not be underestimated.
What BitTorrent Bleep Does
Bleep is aptly named for a privacy conscious communications tool. Jaehee Lee explained the meaning in a BitTorrent blog post. He said that users’ communications are anonymous with the tool, that they are no more than bleeps to the company. BitTorrent itself cannot see users’ conversations, or even the metadata. This is the mark of truly anonymous communications software.
Bleep works on a decentralized system which takes communications away from central servers. Normally, Internet phone calls and messaging go through these servers which route traffic to different destinations. This makes them prone to government surveillance. Bleep instead uses distributed technology to deliver communications. People don’t need servers to carry their traffic and can converse directly. This eliminates the risk of revealing metadata that can uncover identities and the contents of conversations. There is a pre-Alpha test version of Bleep available, but it is offered to select invitees only for now.
Government Surveillance on Internet Communications
Internet communications have been under attack for many years. Government surveillance programs have been created to target everyday conversations for different purposes. Most platforms that we use today for voice calls and messaging online are not safe from government surveillance. They are too easy to hack and spy on. We see evidence of this quite often, and BitTorrent felt they could be key players in developing unique anonymizing communications software. The goal is to make communications impermeable to government surveillance. The technology for direct communications exists, and Bleep is riding the wave.
BitTorrent believes that Bleep is going to be a brilliant piece of software for people who value anonymity. And they believe that the tool will be suitable for more than just your average private conversations. Businesses can use Bleep to protect sensitive corporate information. Diplomats can do the same, securing sensitive information from government surveillance. Journalists around the world can protect their identities form government surveillance that is meant to expose them. They can also better protect their sources and the stories that could endanger them.
Some are not convinced, however, that Bleep can defeat the NSA. This agency is very well funded and totally focused on the spy game. And there are other agencies that posses similar advanced mass surveillance technology. Peer-to-peer communications may not be enough to truly foil government surveillance. We do not know how powerful government surveillance really is, and how deep they can dig for covert communications. The NSA has a very broad reach, and has penetrated many Internet niches. Facebook has been targeted, as well as other social media platforms. Android has also been breached. Gaming communities are also under government surveillance. We have also read about their massive email and phone surveillance setups. They can reach world leaders and large corporations. It simply remains to be seen whether Bleep is really up to this great challenge.