​BitTorrent's no-cloud encrypted messaging app Bleep goes live

Privacy-guarding, peer-to-peer Bleep now available for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.

Bleep's Whisper mode. Image: BitTorrent

BitTorrent, best known for its file-sharing technology, has released Bleep, a peer-to-peer app for private messaging.

After the release of alpha versions of Bleep for Android, OS X, and Windows last September, BitTorrent today released updated versions of the app for all three platforms, as well as for iOS.

Bleep puts privacy features front and centre with end-to-end encryption of messages that, thanks to its P2P architecture, are only stored locally on a device.

BitTorrent last year detailed how it's using P2P technology, such as distributed hash tables, to enhance privacy when users register with the network. This avoids the need to collect metadata, and offers a way for users to find each other without relying on a central lookup.

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"For messages and metadata, there is no server for hackers to target and because you hold the keys - images can't be leaked to haunt you later. We've solved serverless peer-to-peer messaging, including the ability to get offline friends your messages when they come back online," BitTorrent said on Tuesday.

The latest version of the Bleep app includes a new Whisper feature that, similar to other ephemeral messaging apps, will delete a message 25 seconds after it's been viewed. It also promises to deal with the risk of screenshots being leaked by blocking out the nickname of the sender.

Users can tap an eye icon to display the nickname too, but if they do that, the conversations or image are blurred - meaning a photo could potentially be leaked but it wouldn't be attached to the name of the sender.

"They can capture the conversation or the sender, but not both at the same time," BitTorrent said.

The idea behind the name Bleep is that users can 'bleep out' anything they've said without the risk of metadata or content later being exposed to third parties.

BitTorrent is also using uTorrent's much larger node network to deal with Bleep's initially small number of nodes, which could expose users to a privacy risk if attacked. Its engineers said last year that the plan was to use the same distributed hash table as uTorrent, which has millions of nodes, thus dealing with the 'chicken and egg' problem.

Bleep is one more way BitTorrent is moving beyond its history in file-sharing, having drawn accusations from rights holders that it facilitates piracy. The other big project BitTorrent is working on is Maelstrom, a peer-to-peer browser that relies on other browser users for website content rather than a central webserver.

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