The NSA revelations have gotten people thinking how their communications are being tracked, and in response the Swedish team behind Flattr and the Pirate Bay have launched Heml.is, a new mobile messaging app with a focus on privacy. They write on their website that companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google have been forced to open up their systems and hand out information about their users, and that there should be something simple and beautiful to facilitate private communication.
Their app’s goal is to become a safe alternative to SMS, Whatsapp, Kik, and all the other messaging alternatives. The app will provide the same sort of basic messaging, with paid features allowing image sending, and other bonus uses. It’s all right there in the name; Hemlis means “secret” in Swedish.
The founders, Peter Sunde, Leif Högberg, and Linus Olsson say message content will be completely secure – even they will not be able to access messages. But one area where it will be tougher to make completely private is to hide who is talking to who – sort of the same sort of “metadata” tracking that caused the NSA debate.
Also there’s no mention of the app being open-source, so it will be tough to independenly verify the security claims. That being said, it’s hard to believe the founders of the Pirate Bay would be in bed with security agencies or skimp on security.
Right now the app appears just to be a concept. Currently they’re raising money to fund their development through their website, and have quickly raised almost $38,000 of their $100,000 goal. Payment can be facilitated through Paypall, or Bitcoin (as you might have guessed). They say they’ll still continue to develop their app if they don’t hit their goal, but money speeds up development and unlocks codes for yourself and your friends.
The app they’ve showed off looks nicely designed, and well within the new iOS7 design paradigm. A lot of services focused on security seem to have the most bare-bones design, so it will be interesting to see if that effects downloads positively.
More information can be found in their video: