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Startup Provides Secure Calls For Egypt

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  • They way things are going we may need that here in the USA sometime in the next few years.
    • by dave562 (969951)

      There has been a need for this forever. Just look at the rate that people go through disposible cellphones. Those roving wiretap laws are a real PITA for people involved in certain types of transactional businesses. Instead of having to come up on a new burner every couple of days, they just can rock the 'droid and get around the LEOs.

    • They way things are going we may need that here in the USA sometime in the next few years.

      Don't tell me. Some dude with a blackboard told you about impending dictatorship?

      I find nothing as amusing as the rage of the entitled. You live in the most free society on Earth (or so you're fond of bragging anyway) but as soon as the party that you don't support takes power or your income tax bill goes up a little (it probably hasn't, by the way, Obama has lowered middle class taxes, you're welcome) you're crying about being "oppressed". Yeah, right. Try telling that to people who have been unable to ou

      • by DrVomact (726065)

        A rather uncharitable comment about the people who have been financing and supplying you with arms and ammunition for centuries (well, almost), "Fianna Fail man". Surely you're aware of the sympathies of the American people toward your cause, right? So chill, FF man. And up the IRA. Whoever they are these days...

        • Go learn the difference between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein and then get back to me with some sort of relevant point.

      • by russotto (537200)

        I find nothing as amusing as the rage of the entitled. You live in the most free society on Earth (or so you're fond of bragging anyway)

        Actually our government likes to say that. Left-wing types fearing a US dictatorship usually do not.

        Try telling that to people who have been unable to oust their dictator for 30 years and got hit with tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammo, and speeding vehicles when they tried to do something about it.

        Yeah, but when our government tries to help out with ousting dictators, w

        • Yeah, but when our government tries to help out with ousting dictators, we get a lot of bad press for it and are told not to interfere, by pretty much everyone (including the left wing types who fear a US dictatorship).

          How many dictators have you actually ousted lately? Only one or two that I can think of, which is good, but you botched the follow-up operations so badly that your troops are still in the middle of those messes. On the other hand you have a history of ousting democratic governments and insta

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Okaaay.

        So basically what you are saying, is that since we have it better than most places in the world, but still worse than others, that we have no right to complain? That because the US has not *yet* started physically oppressing its people at a large scale (it does do so at a small scale in notable situations) that we cannot complain about any of the losses of our freedoms and violations of our rights *till* it happens?

        How does that make any sense? It's like a doctor saying to wait till your appendix ex

        • It's like a doctor saying to wait till your appendix explodes before surgery, or for that cancer to spread a little bit more before you get treatment.

          No, it's like waiting for your doctor to say that there actually is any indication that you need surgery before going in for surgery. Going under the knife when there's fuck all wrong with you is the act of a hypochondriac. People like you are political hypochondriacs who think they're in the same boat as the Warsaw Jews just because a black dude got elected President.

          Recognizing that the US is heading for a totalitarian dictatorship with all the abuses you mentioned is not a partisan or divisive act in of itself.

          I think "deluded paranoia" would be a better description.

          • by EdIII (1114411)

            Why are you still on Obama? Just because somebody complains about our loss of freedoms over here does not mean we are anti-Obama. I still don't get that. Most people I know concerned about rights and freedoms are not anti-Democrat, anti-Socialism, or anti-Obama.

            You mentioned "black"... what the fuck does that have to do with it? So all the people complaining about our loss of freedoms are now racist as well?

            Deluded Paranoia? Right. You tell me I am deluded after understanding the Patriot Act, how it ha

      • by MoeDumb (1108389)
        "Some dude with a blackboard told you about impending dictatorship?...You live in the most free society on Earth" The blackboard brigade would like to keep it that way. If history has taught us anything it is to (1) be ever vigilant about those who would try to remove our freedoms, and (2) never take your freedom for granted.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      In the US the NSA is your telco. Copper, optical, sat, dial up, they will deep packet inspect it all.
      The unique encrypted traffic will glow and any average user will stand out.
      A fusion centre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_center [wikipedia.org] would get your details and the vans would be on the way.
      Also remember what this software runs on. Nokia Siemens was to Iran as a that nice telco/web 2.0 .com is to the USA?
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday February 11, 2011 @02:19AM (#35171068)

      Here's the transcript of mubarack speech tonight:

      You know the rules and so do I
      A full commitment's what I'm thinking of
      You wouldn't get this from any other guy
      I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
      Gotta make you understand

      Never gonna give you up
      Never gonna let you down
      Never gonna run around and desert you
      Never gonna make you cry
      Never gonna say goodbye
      Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

      We've known each other for so long
      Your heart's been aching but
      You're too shy to say it
      Inside we both know what's been going on
      We know the game and we're gonna play it

      http://tinyurl.com/2g9mqh [tinyurl.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      May need? Start encrypting your calls and messages today. Don't wait for any public announcement. That will never come.

  • Can they do something about those unwanted text messages sent to cell phones? Too many of the new cell phone users in Arab countries are getting prematurely detonated by unwelcome messages.

  • by seifried (12921) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @08:11PM (#35168942) Homepage

    In the places you need to use this the most just using this app will be grounds for a head kicking. The classic "You're trying to maintain your own privacy/secrecy, you must be up to something bad."

    • by icebike (68054)

      Further, there is nothing secure about communications, however well encrypted they might be as people in Egypt found out when the entire country's net went dark.

      Secure also means Operational.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        Further, there is nothing secure about communications, however well encrypted they might be as people in Egypt found out when the entire country's net went dark.

        Secure also means Operational.

        RedPhone is just one piece of a larger puzzle [imagicity.com] that could create some very exciting stories for freedom-lovers everywhere:

        We need to disintermediate [wikimedia.org] the network. It's an ugly duckling of a word, but cutting out the middle man matters more now than ever.

        As long as the cables, wires and frequencies over which we communicate are susceptible to being controlled [imagicity.com], curtailed or even disconnected when the things we say -or the way we say them- become upsetting, we will find ourselves increasingly confined.

        As I s

      • > there is nothing secure about communications, however well encrypted they might be
        > as people in Egypt found out when the entire country's net went dark.

        Electronic communication. There are more ways to (securely) communicate than calling and texting.
        The usual paradigm also applies here: The more complicated and high-tech a system you're relying on is, the higher the likelihood of it failing (or deliberately being made to fail).

        • by icebike (68054)

          True there are other means of secure communications, but the man in the street can not use these.

    • by carlzum (832868)
      It will be interesting to see how long it takes the people that need it in Egypt today to ban it after they're in power.
    • I've used the Red Phone app (Whisper Systems) on Android, and to me, it seems to provide only a half measure of encryption, in that one can easily identify the source.

      "RedPhone uses your normal mobile number for addressing, so there's no need to have yet another identifier or account name;" [http://www.whispersys.com]

      Seems to me, like the above poster stated, this can easily single you out for a head-kicking.

      Of course, the government could always pass a law outlawing civilians from possessing any t
      • it seems to provide only a half measure of encryption, in that one can easily identify the source.

        Phone companies are already required to keep logs of who you are communicating, but not the content of the message, so from a government intrusion point of view, it's keeping the bit they don't have secret without some effort on the governments part. I suppose if you were texting a mistress and didn't want your wife to know about her existance as well as not knowing about the contents of the messages it migh

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Well, if they've got nothing to hide, why would they object to the secret police looking at it?

  • by DrVomact (726065) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @08:17PM (#35169010) Journal

    An odd story. The company (Whisper Systems) makes software (for Android systems only, apparently) that supports VoIP and SMS encryption. But it also has a history of rolling over for repressive governments, providing them with user data, and allowing them (well, Egypt's government, anyway) to send propaganda messages via their systems. It sounds like this "beta" software is also available in the US. But what good does it do to use software from a company that will just rat you out to whatever government snaps its fingers?

    • by 0x000000 (841725) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:03PM (#35169778)

      Whisper Systems is an US based company that has never provided user data to Egypts government, nor has it allowed them to send messages through their system. You are thinking about Vodafone which was forced to do so by the government.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @08:20PM (#35169036)
    When a governmental regime is on the verge of collapse, they tend to apply their laws a lot more loosely. Especially with a state security apparatus such as what exists in Egypt (since they've been doing things like this for the past 30 years) they won't even bother trying to break into communications. All you have to do is download it, or have your traffic intercepted. If they are able to tell you are using it (doesn't matter if you are calling your friends to plan a protest, asking how your mom's operation went, or even just voting for American Idol) they will pick you up. And if they do pick you up, it takes a lot less technological know-how to break a person than it does breaking an encryption.
  • Else this will be another Haystack. People's lives are potentially at stake here.
    • by Mysteray (713473)

      Moxie has a way better track record than the Haystack folks.

      Plus, he's in the "extra search club" at airports supposedly for having been in Jacob Appelbaum's address book. That means he either has something good, or the feds are incompetent idiots.

      Oh wait.

      Or maybe that's exactly what they want us to think. Or all of the above.

    • I believe that Haystack's encryption was proprietary. That usually = bad. Redphone's encryption uses SRTP which uses AES by default http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Real-time_Transport_Protocol [wikipedia.org]. They claim they will have the source code up on their site soon. I wonder if the int'l will be the same as the usa only version. Exporting non-military encryption from the USA: http://www.bis.doc.gov/encryption/enc_faqs.htm [doc.gov]
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @08:27PM (#35169112) Journal

    ...the technology used to fuel democracy protests in Egypt...

    The subtext of all this ubiquitous commentary is that technology invented in the USA is helping these poor plebs in less advanced countries to win their freedom and hence become more American-like.

    It is, of course, a load of bollox.

    The role of new media has been picked up by the mainstream western press and held up as if it would never have happened without this technology and hence allows the west to take credit for this uprising. The fact that the era of cheap food has come to an end [economist.com], the demographics of the Arab world and the middle east has produced a massive generation of young people [newsflavor.com], and people are willing to organise by any means available including good old fashioned word-of-mouth doesn't have the same soundbite-friendly ring to it.

    • by mirix (1649853)

      Damn right. Almost every story I see these days crediting social networks would have happened without cellphones or the internet... Hell, without print for that matter. Sure, they may have made it marginally easier, but if enough people are upset about something, they'll organize the good old fashioned way.

      Something like 30% of folks in Egypt are illiterate. Fat lot of good twitter is going to be doing them. I assume some of them are among the protesters?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ...the technology used to fuel democracy protests in Egypt...

      The role of new media has been picked up by the mainstream western press and held up as if it would never have happened without this technology [...]

      "fuel democracy" != "sole cause of uprising"
      "Western" technology has been a contributor to the protests across the region - even if not used directly by the people on the streets.

      Without the internet (or atleast the near-instant exchange of information over long distances) would joe sixpack even know of unrest in Egypt?
      Would muhammed sixpack in egypt have known about the unrest in tunisia and other areas? [wikipedia.org]
      Would we have any other sources of information other than official government mouthpieces?
      Would the Thre

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Without the internet (or atleast the near-instant exchange of information over long distances) would joe sixpack even know of unrest in Egypt?

        Actually, I would say yes. In fact, I would say the internet makes it worse. It's one thing that newspapers do right that the internet does wrong - it attempts to be broad-spectrum. I read more about Egypt through my daily newspapers than I do online, and I know lots of people who gave up newspapers for their RSS readers and the like.

        Given that in a broadsheet, it doe

      • "fuel democracy" != "sole cause of uprising"

        My comment was a reference to the general tone of the discussion in the west where new media is cited as being the sole cause of the uprising.

        Without the internet (or atleast the near-instant exchange of information over long distances) would joe sixpack even know of unrest in Egypt?

        Yes. Newspapers and television are quite capable of disseminating information.

        Would muhammed sixpack in egypt have known about the unrest in tunisia and other areas?

        I'm pretty sure he would. If he didn't get it from Al Jazeera he'd have gotten it from somewhere.

        Would we have any other sources of information other than official government mouthpieces?

        Yes. Western news agencies are actually pretty good at getting into the thick of it and getting the information out. Just because American broadcasters don't give a shit about the outside world d

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @08:41PM (#35169208)
    are allowing this. It wouldn't be hard at all to put this down with a modern military (which Egypt more or less has). Maybe there's just be too much attention from the rest of the world & they're afraid of being 'liberated' by the US.

    Iran was on the verge of that, but they got lucky and Micheal Jackson died. The distraction was enough for them to go back to oppressing their people, but unless the Pope buys it I don't think there's anyone else in the world now important enough to distract the entire planet at once.
  • This is all good, but what about email? Shouldn't we be pushing more for the adoption of PGP and/or S/MIME?

    And while we're at it, why does it seem like adoption of those technologies is actually dropping? FireGPG recently lost its GMail support and GMail closed the google labs bit that verified signatures.

  • That was sarcasm. If people want encrypted VoIP, they'll load Skype. There are already umteen million Skype users, so there is an actual possibility there will be someone to use it with.

    Wake me when they write an Android/iPhone app that can insert itself into a traditional voice call, encrypting the voice stream without using VoIP.

    Activate it with a hash code (# or *) for a "push to go secure" bit.

    Obviously it'll only work if the person on the other end has the same software, but not relying on a 3G data

    • by horza (87255)

      That was sarcasm. If people want encrypted VoIP, they'll load Skype. There are already umteen million Skype users, so there is an actual possibility there will be someone to use it with.

      The wonder of Android phones is that you can download and install software on it. Much like if you wish to speak to somebody on Skype both parties must install the requisite software, this also works with other software too.

      Wake me when they write an Android/iPhone app that can insert itself into a traditional voice call, en

      • by chill (34294)

        The wonder of Android phones is that you can download and install software on it. Much like if you wish to speak to somebody on Skype both parties must install the requisite software, this also works with other software too.

        Which, if you note, I said "assuming the other person has the same software on the other end".

        Whilst you were asleep, traditional voice calls have switched from analogue to digital. It's now all packet based behind the scenes.

        While napping, I spent 5 years as a telecom engineer with Alcatel-Lucent. 2 of those years were as a CALEA specialist. That is, cell phone wiretapping.

        In short, I know what I'm talking about and analog vs digital wasn't it.

        My reference to OpenMoko was that it was the only phone that had a fully open hardware and software stack, including access to the telephony and GSM radio components. Even the Nokia N900 doesn

        • by horza (87255)

          Hopefully you will still see this reply (just seen yours). The chances of somebody having Skype are still small in overall terms. As a general rule, family/friends will agree on whatever is convenient at the time. Here in France our group of friends shifted as one to a certain operator as they allowed free mobile calls between that operator. If a group wish to talk to each other they may choose Fring, Skype, Wengo, or whatever else, and everybody will just install that app. It's quick and simple, and there

          • by chill (34294)

            Thanks for the intelligent replies.

            My main thrust was the ability to insert itself into the GSM stream because GSM 2/2.5G is so much more prevalent and thus has the potential for reaching a wider audience. While I have T-Mobile "4G" in the city where I work, they still don't have 3G coverage out in the rural area where I live. All I get is EDGE.

            It has been 20+ years since I've been to Eastern Europe, and that was well before Wifi. In fact, there was this whole Iron Curtain thing at the time... :-)

            I wonde

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:07PM (#35169804)

    Has he also released this for the people of Cuba?

  • Anything like that (encrypted calls and text message apps) available for Maemo and Meego?

    Out of interest: can apps for Android, which AFAIK is basically a custom-Linux distro, be used on Maemo/Meego?

  • It's not open source. The vast majority of all proprietary encryption products are flawed or intentionally flawed. In fact, I would say that nearly all of the products that have been scrutinized by experts (i.e. reverse engineered, etc.) have turned out to be seriously flawed. The ones that don't appear to have buggy implementations just haven't interested anyone enough yet to take a closer look.

    • by horza (87255)

      According to this article [h-online.com], it uses standard ZRTP for voice and OTR for text.

      Phillip.

      • Sure, but how do you know that it's implemented correctly without auditing the source code?

        I'm sure that the developer is competent, but as history has shown over and over competent and experienced implementers of cryptographic modules also make serious mistakes. Moreover, the Patriot act can be used to force a US developer, no matter how idealistic and good-willing he might be, to include a back-door and prevent him ever from telling anyone about it. My point of view is that for this reason alone you canno

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