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Skype conversations getting end-to-end encryption thanks to Signal

The Edward Snowden-backed Signal Protocol is being implemented into Skype for text, voice, and multimedia messaging.

Published onJanuary 12, 2018

  • Skype has partnered with Signal to bring end-to-end encryption to Skype chats.
  • These Private Conversations cover text, voice, and multimedia messages, but not video.
  • The system is available to Skype Insiders for now, but will roll out to all users later this year.

Skype is getting end-to-end encryption thanks to a Microsoft partnership with Signal. The collaboration was announced in a press release (via Android Police) yesterday, bringing Skype chat protection up to par with the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Signal—an offshoot of Open Whisper Systems—is the developer of an end-to-end encryption system (Signal Protocol) that prevents wireless communications from being spied on by other parties. Rather than being applied to all chats (like in WhatsApp), Skype’s implementation of this is part of a new feature called Private Conversations. These conversations take place between the user and one of their contacts, and must be opened manually.

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Private Conversations are locked to the specific device they are opened on (you’ll need to send another conversation invited to your contact if you wish to change devices) and messages from them won’t show up in notification previews. Additionally, these conversations allow “emoticons, files and audio messages” to be sent, while message editing and file forwarding are disabled.

End-to-end encryption for Skype video calls, meanwhile, wasn’t announced—though the Signal Protocol does support the functionality.

Currently, Private Conversations are available only to those on Skype’s Insider program, but they’re set to roll out to everyone sometime in 2018. Give us your thoughts on the news in the comments.

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