BitTorrent wants to Bleep your instant messages


— 1:53 PM on August 4, 2014

Want to send messages over the Internet without the NSA listening in on your conversations? The folks behind BitTorrent think they've come up with a solution: a distributed, encrypted messaging system called Bleep. Unlike traditional messaging apps, Bleep relies on a decentralized network of peers. There's no central server to store messages, metadata, or contact information. Even searching for other users is handled through the peer-to-peer swarm.

Bleep is based on the BitTorrent Chat experiment revealed last year. It uses an encrypted version of BitTorrent's DHT protocol that relies on public key encryption. Here's how the scheme works:

With BitTorrent Chat, there aren’t any "usernames" per se. You don't login in the classic sense. Instead, your identity is a cryptographic key pair. To everyone on the BitTorrent Chat network at large, you ARE your public key. This means that, if you want, you can use Chat without telling anyone who you are. Two users only need to exchange each other’s public keys to be able to chat.

Using public key encryption provides us with a number of benefits. The most obvious is the ability to encrypt messages to your sender using your private key and their public key. But in public key encryption, if someone gains access to your private key, all of your past (and future) messages could be decrypted and read. In Chat, we are implementing forward secrecy. Every time you begin a conversation with one of your contacts, a temporary encryption key will be generated. Using each of your keypairs, this key will be generated for this one conversation and that conversation only, and then deleted forever.

A pre-alpha version of BitTorrent Bleep is currently being tested on a invite-only basis. Text and voice chat are both supported, but offline messages are not, at least in the current incarnation. The alpha is also Windows-only, though versions are planned for other platforms, including mobile operating systems.

   
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