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Web Summit 2019: 'Godfather of crypto' hails new chat app with privacy protection

David Chaum is hailing a new app that can protect the identity of parties in a conversation
David Chaum is hailing a new app that can protect the identity of parties in a conversation -
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Some call David Chaum the ‘godfather of cryptocurrency'. Now, he is also the father of Elixxir, a powerful privacy-protecting network that just released xx alpha messenger —a unique chatting app that prevents observers making the connection between sender and receiver.

The app "shreds the metadata before its created, and that’s something that no other system does,” Chaum told Euronews at Web Summit.

“Every messaging system on the planet actually allows the system provider to know who’s talking to whom and when, and certainly, the NSA or China know who's talking to whom, it is what Edward Snowden told us about.”

Earlier this week at the Web Summit, Snowden, a former NSA analyst, spoke via live link from Russia and accused organisations such as Facebook and the NSA of engaging in abuse, “we have legalised, the abuse of the person through the personal. We have entrenched a system that makes the population vulnerable.”

Chatting and payments

After its deployment, XX alpha messenger will also integrate payment thanks to Praxis, a new digital currency supported by a quantum-resistant blockchain. Praxis is the sister company of Elixxir. The combination of chat plus payment will provide “a replacement product for the likes of WeChat", Chaum assures, "in order words, your mother will be able to say: I hate those guys, they’ve been spying on me without my permission, they’ve been monetising my data, without my permission, they’ve destroyed our democracy, they’ve put a lot of dissidents and others in jail or worse… and I’m sick of that, I just want to send messages so I’ll just switch over to Elixxir, why not?’

Chaum is sure that XX alpha messenger will be organically adopted because it offers unprecedented user privacy.

'No corporation can compete with Elixxir'

Chaum says Tor, the software that enables anonymous communication, “is useless to protect your information because when you look into the network traffic it completely reveals who's talking to whom and when”.

“Only our system can provide shredding in real-time of the metadata of whom communicates with whom. Of course, it also provides end-to-end encryption but that’s the easy part everyone can do,” he added.

Chaum thinks the migration towards XX alpha messenger will be a natural behaviour “just like when everyone moved from AOL to MySpace." The history of social media has had platforms abandoned for new ones with greater utility, he believes.

“There is no business model that would work for them [corporations], because we’re not spying on anyone, we shred the data and there’s no way they can provide this kind of privacy because they’re ‘sitting ducks’ for governments who will force them to give all the keys, just like it recently happened with Facebook.”

'Facebook’s Libra is not a crypto'

Facebook's Libra project is not something he considers competition. “Libra is not a crypto, it is a corporate elite back-system, and it has nothing to do with the likes of bitcoin which rocked the planet because it was distributed in a manner that could not be controlled by government. That's the thing about blockchain, that’s what we have and they don’t”.

“Our new quantum resisting currency is going to be far more interesting to the public than more of the same.”

Money laundering worries over crypto are missing the point

Chaum says that worrying about consumer payment and money laundering with crypto is a "misplacement of the emphasis". Recently, he says, “a Danish bank admitted to laundering I think hundreds of billions of dollars."

He thinks these arguments are going to become more and more obvious to the public.

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