This year alone we've already seen countless reports of the NSA tracking our every move online and offline, how the organization has rooted itself in the very core of the Internet from the beginning. Phone conversations, Skype calls, instant messages and other forms of communication are seemingly no longer private. The NSA is even gathering data on our social connections. Privacy, it seems, is a word only used in fiction.
BitTorrent Labs even points out that more than six million people have been impacted by data breaches this year alone. Thus, the company wants to ensure your instant messaging privacy by offering a chat client based on the torrenting principle of decentralized data transfer. In a world where messages no longer seem to be our own, the BitTorrent team wants users to know that messages can still remain secure, private and free.
"BitTorrent Chat is a pre-Alpha experiment in server-less messaging," reads the company blog. "As we begin discovery, we're inviting our community in for feedback, ideas, and testing. Want to solve for chat security? Hit us up. We're accepting applications on Labs. Sign up, and help us build something sick."
The new chat client supposedly works similarly to BitTorrent Sync, but is adapted to real-time communications. That implies each user has some sort of secured key that must be given to other users to initiate a chat – perhaps something similar to friend codes. BitTorrent Sync also doesn't feature servers that store information, but rather directs keys and related data to their proper destination.
For now the chat client requires a BitTorrent account to use, but the team plans to add support for other instant messaging accounts, and support SIP standards. So far it's unknown what platform the service will initially support – Windows, Mac or Linux – but the team will eventually release mobile apps as it did with BitTorrent Sync. What's also unknown is how the service will log chats – locally we presume – or if the client stores chats at all.
Instant message chat logs and traffic are governed by the same legal standards as phone text messages and email, thus one can presume that instant message logs have also been requested from the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. When asked about how BitTorrent would respond to requests for Chat logs, Averill wasn't able to provide a detailed answer.
"We're not familiar with specifics of NSA programs, so it's not something we can really comment on," he said. "We are focused on creating something durable that does not rely on the cloud, that respects user privacy and that has real consumer benefits."
Averill said that the idea of a torrent-based chat client came during one of the company's internal hackathons, which has previously led to software such as BitTorrent Sync.
To sign up for the BitTorrent Chat Alpha, head here.