Interview with the Creator of Briar Messaging App “Michael Rodgers”
- Salman Ahmed
- June 21st, 2018
It is a blessing when a messaging app like Briar exists in a world where keeping online data privacy is too mainstream. It secures online users from anonymous hackers when using social media platforms.
The app is developed for individuals who wants privacy with their online data, user-friendly app, and a faster way to communicate between friends and family. The most appealing feature of Briar Messaging app is that it doesn’t base on central server mechanism like other messaging apps available in the market. This means, Briar Messaging app has the ability to synchronize messages between devices.
In case if you find that network service is down, there is no need to worry because Briar can sync via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, keeping the information flowing even in a situation of crisis in a secure manner. But when the internet is working fine, this app syncs via Tor, which significantly secures users’ data from surveillance.
To know what the purpose of development of Briar app along with the clear understanding of how this app secures user online data, we interviewed the leading man behind this app “Michael Rodgers.” Here is a list of answers that would help you decide whether you should use this unique messaging app or not.
Well, I think I was somewhat interested in this area for a long time. I did my Ph.D. in decentralized networks, so looking at networks that resist censorship. And the idea of doing it in this way that comes off breaks off line came about in the mid of 2000’s when the government started to shut down the internet as a way of controlling decent, and I think the first time I was aware about it was in 2007. And that’s become increasingly common tactics, so start become clear that if you are desiring something to resist censorship is also edit to offer it offline. And any other aspect to that really is a with things like Edward Snowden leaks, from which become aware of the vast kind of scale surveillance of the internet and that makes it much more difficult to do internet based communication without revealing meta data about who you are communicating with. So, two pieces that I tried to bring together with …… are you know keeping up communication private while talking on internet and then also being able to operate offline when internet is not available.
I think we are really pleased with the you know what we are being able to build so far but we think it moved a lot slower than we would than we expected. It means take us a long time to 1.0 release and still we have lots of things to do you know like feature parenting with best kind of messaging app you know to get to the level where people would use Briar app in the similar way as WhatsApp still you know a long way off. So it’s going to be long part but now you know we got some new languages for coding and volunteer people to get involved in our project that why we are picking up speed and a you know we will provide a best version of Briar app soon or later.
I think of there are multiple features available in Briar app that differentiate it from apps, which are available in the market you know like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc. One of the best feature that makes Briar app very different are you can communicate securely with people even if you do not have an internet connection which is an impressive feature so far in my opinion so far.
Moreover, the features other than offline feature that makes this app different from other renowned messaging app are peer-to-peer encrypted messaging and forums. Messages are stored securely on your device, not in the cloud, connect directly with nearby contacts – no internet access required, free and open source software. These kind of features I think you know makes briar app highly secured messaging especially when you talk about growing incidents of privacy breaching globally.
I am very happy with it and really pleased to hear that people who have experienced popular messaging app, considered briar app as one the best usable alternative, honestly really feeling good about it. However, you know we have to run our messaging app faster to compete with these popular messaging apps in terms of features they are offering. Features like video calling, box feature offers by Telegram and other messaging app unique features gives us a very tough competition and that’s what we need to accomplish to make our app one of the best messaging app as soon as possible.
Well first of all Briar app is an open source, which is a great starting point and we are going to work at the moment on implementing useful bills which means we don’t have to prove that the app is actually build from secure source kind of website. Therefore, I think that is the main source of protection for our users without using malicious intents.
Yeah I mean the license that Briar messaging commits anybody to take it. it means anyone can voluntary add features to this messaging app and If the suggested changes and modifications worth it then we are pleased to add these features added by voluntary features as a permanent of Briar messaging app and make that available to everyone. So legally speaking if these developers want to modify this app, they have the right to do according to their preferences.
I think one of the best definitions of Privacy I came across is about the right to have different stages of your life and to choose you know how you manage the different phase of life. Like for example family life, life with friends, work life etc. However, so many people thinks that Privacy means “Secrecy” but to me Privacy means it being able to be good human that has the ability to maintain good relationship with different people and for other people to respect your right to manage those relationships rather than implementing their personal statements.
Furthermore, I think there is a long debate going on about Privacy, which focuses on things like Facebook on social media and I, think there is a tendency to view as a question like does Facebook have my personal information you know. But I think is more about human rights and relationships and what happen to those human rights and relationship when somebody knows everything about everyone, you know that is kind of direct effect on relationships and on a whole society. Therefore, I think we need to start thinking, as a collective problem and we should understand this that this is not just about my data or I am not only one who has this responsibility to protect privacy of others. It can only maintained by collective efforts not by the individuals like but by legal authorities and social platform as well
Well I think is a good start. I mean its drawing a lot of attention to these questions of data privacy and things like that when you get cookies warnings and you click on it, a list appears on the screen of different well-known websites. It is actually raising the awareness among users about what kind of personal information they will take when you use their platforms and acknowledge users what kind of information they could limit for these websites. Therefore, it is actually raising problem profile, which is good initially. But I think it is still to go long way regarding data ownership perspective.
Absolutely yeah, I think it is really important to set those norms and obliviously it had a big influence on American companies which is, you know, a rare opportunity. But in other countries it’s a kind of different behavior of American companies in that way, so it’s really impressive from that point of view. I think a lot of damage has been done in the other direction where norms has been established by creating system which is easy to monitor because that’s the most convenient way to do within European and American context. Instead of building the technology that embeds those capabilities which surrounding around the world you know that’s cause a lot of surveillance globally, so its good to see that positive thing come out, kind of you know international dispersion of technology as well.
Umm… I think that was kind of, I mean dark web has a couple of different meanings I guess following in the specific context that you can access through Tor browser. However, I don’t want to suggest people should use briar app to communicate with anonymous group of people somewhere out there in the world. Briar app is more about communicating with the people who you already know in secure way. And it more about protecting your relationship from surveillance.
Well we don’t have any information about the individuals who use Briar messaging app, unless they choose to send us you know such as bug report or something like that. Even if we are running a server and all the connections are encrypted, so we cant see how many peoples are connecting. So we don’t have any information and control over the network and that’s because of decentralized mechanism. So, eventually different security and government authorities asked us about the user data, we won’t be able to provide them. And that’s how Briar app protect personal information of the users and the main reason to create this messaging app.
I would say you know being aware of how much data you are giving to different people is important and the GDPR helps for that I said earlier on that it’s a good start, try to understand how these social platforms are using your personal data from where we can understand what kind of data they are producing. And I guess the only thing don’t unnecessarily linked together different things in your life that don’t need to be linked together. So, you know if you got mobile phone and you are paying for it with credit card and use credit card for shopping every week or use it to buy air tickets, all of those things you know kind of linked together that shows very detailed picture of who you are more than you are doing. If you don’t think that’s a good idea as an individual for this detailed online picture to exist or if you don’t think it’s good collectively for society for anybody to have that amount of information about everybody. And I think you know I mentioned earlier that is a bigger concern then we you know takes to trying keep stuff little bit isolated and to exercise whatever legal rights you have related to online data privacy.