Thursday, January 16, 2014

Out in the Open: An NSA-Proof Twitter, Built With Code From Bitcoin and BitTorrent

Wired News (01/13/14) Klint Finley 

Concerned about government surveillance of Internet traffic and social networks, Miguel Freitas aims to create a more secure alternative to Twitter using code from Bitcoin and BitTorrent. Although Twitter pushes back on government efforts to obtain user data, caution should be exercised in placing too much information with a single company, according to Freitas. He is building a decentralized social network called Twister, which no single entity should be able to shut down. Twister blocks users from gaining information about specific other users, such as when they are online, their IP address, and who they follow. Direct and private messages on Twister are protected with the same encryption scheme used by LavaBit. Twister is now available in a test version that runs on Android, Linux, and OSX, and can be configured to work with other operating systems because of its open source code. The network uses the Bitcoin protocol to ensure that user names are not registered twice, and that posts attached to a particular user name do in fact originate from that user. The BitTorrent protocol enables Twister to distribute a large volume of posts quickly and efficiently, and enables users to receive almost instant notification about new posts without relying on central servers.