Is Signal not as secure as we have been led to believe? The president's past raised alarm bells about the popular application

Conservative activist Christopher Rufo revealed Katherine Maher's connections with the United States intelligence apparatus.

Signal is a messaging application that stands out because it is perceived as the one that provides the greatest protection to users' privacy and personal data. In addition to being free, it has no advertising and is funded by a non-profit foundation, Signal Foundation. This is why it has been downloaded by more than one hundred million users, and has the support of personalities such as Elon Musk and Edward Snowden. However, a recent article by activist Christopher Rufo questioned the alleged security provided by the app.

The writing, published in City Journal, points to the origin of the application and the past of Katherine Maher, the president of the aforementioned foundation.

"The project was actually a State Department-connected initiative"

Regarding the first point, the author points out that Signal's technology received part of its initial funding from the Open Technology Fund (OTF), sponsored by the Government. "OTF funded Signal to provide 'encrypted mobile communication tools' to 'Internet freedom defenders globally,'" Rufo explained.

In turn, he alleges that some experts argued that the OTF has more connections with United States intelligence.

"One person who has worked extensively with OTF but asked to remain anonymous told me that, over time, it became increasingly clear 'that the project was actually a State Department-connected initiative that planned to wield open source Internet projects made by hacker communities as tools for American foreign policy goals'—including by empowering 'activists [and] parties opposed to governments that the USA doesn’t like.' Whatever the merits of such efforts, the claim—if true—suggests a government involvement with Signal that deserves more scrutiny," he continued.

As for the president of the Signal Foundation, Katherine Maher, Rufo notes that she began her career as a "US-backed agent of regime change." In other words, working secretly to replace authoritarian regimes with Western liberal democracies in various parts of the world. Some of the known methods include organizing activists on social media, encouraging dissent, and unleashing chaos on the streets.

In turn, the author notes that Maher even led communications initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa for the National Democratic Institute, a largely government-funded organization that works in conjunction with American foreign policy campaigns. During those years, "Maher cultivated relationships with online dissidents and used American technologies to advance the interests of U.S.-supported Color Revolutions abroad."

Another stain on Maher's record was her time at the Wikimedia Foundation, of which she was executive director. There, the author wrote, "She became a campaigner against 'disinformation' and admitted to coordinating online censorship 'through conversations with government.' She openly endorsed removing alleged 'fascists,' including President Trump, from digital platforms, and described the First Amendment as 'the number one challenge' to eliminating 'bad information'" he added.

"Maher's presence on Signal's board of directors is alarming"

When explaining the implications of a person with Maher's past being in charge of an application that claims to stand out for its security for users, Rufo said that they "must be careful."

"Maher's presence on Signal's board of directors is alarming. It makes sense that a revolutionary of color like Maher would have an interest in Signal as a secure means of communication," commented J. Michael Waller, a national security analyst.

In turn, Rufo wrote that Maher should be "a warning sign" for those who believe in a free and open internet.

"We’re entering a dangerous period in political technology, and Maher is in the thick of it. Under her ideology, 'Internet freedom' is a tactic, not a principle, and 'fighting disinformation' means speech suppression, including here at home. When people tell you who they are, believe them," the author stated.

The reactions of Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey

One of the first to react to the article was precisely Musk, who referred to the writing in his X account. "There are known vulnerabilities with Signal that are not being addressed. Seems odd," published the founder of Tesla, who was later worthy of a response from Rufo himself, who celebrated that Maher was close to testifying in front of the United States Congress.

Another who reacted to the article was Jack Dorsey, who simply attached the writing to his post and added "did not know this."

Signal's response

Meredith Whittaker, executive director of the application, who was also pointed out by Rufo as the person who recruited Maher to chair the Signal Foundation, responded to the article on her social networks. The executive debunked the accusations and reaffirmed her commitment to the safety of Signal users.

"Hi, hello, we don’t have evidence of extant vulnerabilities and haven’t been notified of anything. We follow responsible disclosure practices, and closely monitor [email protected] + respond & fix any valid issues quickly. So if you do have more info, hit us up!" she began.

"We’ve put a lot of thought into making sure our structure and development practices let people validate our claims, instead of just taking our word for it. This is particularly important to me since I saw the view from inside a massive tech co and observed how widely their claims could diverge from reality when openness, validation, and an actual commitment to principles were not prioritized. Unlike almost all tech orgs we also build with the belief that the only way to keep data safe is not to collect it in the first place. You can see this in action when you clock the vanishingly small amount of data we have been able to turn over when forced," she stated, later attaching a series of links.