Pirate Bay co-founder plans surveillance-free messaging app


The co-founder and former spokesperson of the file-sharing site Pirate Bay Peter Sunde is working on a new iPhone and Android messaging application that will allow the users to protect their conversations from spying.

The application called Hemlis – ‘secret’ in Swedish – utilizes end-to-end encryption to make sure that only the two people in a conversation will have access to its data.

“All communication on today’s networks is being monitored by government agencies and private companies. The politicians are not going to stop it, they’re actually asking for more,” Sunde said in a video about the app. “That’s why we decided to build a messaging platform where no one can spy on you, not even us.”

Indeed, not even Sunde and the team developing the app will see the text messages’ contents, unlike traditional applications that leave the trails of the data – something, which allows the corporations to access it.

No advertisements are set to appear in the application.

“Normally security results in a complex and unfriendly user experience. It should not be that way. Hemlis is a messenger for everyone, so we are dedicated to creating the most user friendly messenger ever,” the description of the app reads.

RT spoke to Sunde about Hemlis’ technical side and the implications of its existence.

“We know how to encrypt the traffic and which countries we can have service in and in which countries we can allow traffic to pass. So we are building a network on top of their own internet to pass the messages along encrypted. So it’s both a technology but it’s also aware of the global legal framework for privacy,” Sunde said.

Although many have tried to link encrypted communication to terrorism, Sunde says the possibility of terrorists using Hemlis is not a valid argument in this case.

“We are talking here about normal people who do not have access to that technology yet. So terrorists are definitely not going to be on our system – they are already on their own systems; they wouldn’t trust us… so I think the only people we are helping are the [ordinary citizens] whom the government is surveilling.”

There is currently a crowd-funding campaign for the application, with the users willing to participate paying in cash or Bitcoin.

At $5, extra features in the app are unlocked, while after spending $10 or more the user gets to pre-register usernames. A donation of $500 allows to be mentioned as a fundraiser in the application, plus hundreds of unlock codes.

The fundraising campaign is in its early stage, though, so there is no official release date planned for the application.

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