Kim Dotcom, founder of the file hosting service Mega, is preparing to launch an encrypted video-calling and chat service that will shield its users’ communications from government surveillance.
“Mega will soon release a fully encrypted and browser-based video call and chat service including high-speed file transfers,” the entrepreneur known as Kim Dotcom said in a tweet.
Kim Dotcom is positioning the service as a more secure way to chat and collaborate online free of government surveillance or spying, partly by virtue of Mega being based in New Zealand. Kim Dotcom has been teasing the app for some time, though now it appears nearly ready for prime time.
“No U.S.-based online service provider can be trusted with your data,” Kim Dotcom said in a separate tweet. “They must provide the U.S. government with backdoors,” he said.
Documents leaked last year by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have indicated that the governments in the U.S. and in the U.K. have accessed user data from online service providers.
Kim Dotcom did not give a precise launch date for the new service. MegaChat appears to be its name, judging from an earlier demo. He did not respond to a request for further comment.
Kim Dotcom made a point of singling out Microsoft-owned Skype as a less secure competitive service. But Skype does use encryption for all Skype-to-Skype voice, video, file transfers and instant messages.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp also added end-to-end encryption late this year. It’s part of a larger trend of companies seeking to better protect their users’ messages from outside snooping, either by the government or by malicious groups.
But encryption and other added security measures can also make companies a compelling target for snooping. Tor, TrueCrypt and Tails topped the NSA’s cryptographic “most wanted” list of 2012, according to documents leaked by Snowden.