trsst

Trsst Is A Secure Twitter For The Post-Snowden Internet

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In a world where tweeting is the new texting, there are some folks out there who want to broadcast their thoughts – but with an acceptable level of security. That’s where Trsst comes in. It is, in short, an encrypted messaging platform that turns your short messages into a p2p style collaboration system.

I realize that’s a bit hard to follow (and I’m still having some trouble wrapping my head around it) but in essence it will be a signed, encrypted, decentralized system that mimics Twitter functionality. This means your person-to-person messages will be completely secure and, more important, messages you broadcast will be digitally signed. The database will be distributed, Bitcoin-style, so no one company controls it.

“Genesis of the project was a while back reading a Dave Winer post called ‘Make a Twitter out of RSS,’ which I thought was inspiring, and then there were some posts by Brent Simmons, and then I ran across some JavaScript client-side crypto libraries and mixed in some ideas from the Bitcoin project,” said creator Michael Powers. Powers is a repeat entrepreneur and thought this would be a cool – and useful – side project.

“The real differentiator is really from the Winer piece in that we’re trying to keep everything really simple. The user cannot know all the stuff going on behind the scenes. They go to a web site, sign up, and then they’re tweeting away,” said Powers. “The service can work with existing http servers and they’re still serving rss, so there’s ease of adoption and lots of interop, but also room to really optimize the syndication on par with a true p2p network. That said, those other projects are staffed by really smart guys and we’ll collaborate and reuse any open source code we can get.”

He’s asking for $48,000 to help with production costs. Twelve dollars gets you access to the beta – a fair bit less than App.net cost in its heyday – and because the project will be ostensibly open and controlled by the users, not a central server.

Why do we need Trsst? Powers writes:

At any time, the directors and shareholders of these companies may revoke their promises to you about privacy, and they may do so without even notifying you about it.
At any time, the governments under which these companies operate may enact legislation that appropriates or nationalizes the data in their possession, including your personally identifying information and stored communications.
This may have already happened. There is no company not under the jurisdiction of a government. No place is safe.

Do I think this has a chance of actually being made? I doubt it. However, it is a noble goal created by a savvy guy. I would argue that broadcast technologies like Twitter are already so ubiquitous that the average user wouldn’t move elsewhere – as evidenced by App.net. However, we definitely all need a side of security with our social media, and this is one way to get it.