Infodump Superhighway

privacy

An announcement published today on the official Signal blog is encouraging users to setup an open source Signal TLS proxy in order to help people in Iran, and possibly other countries in the not too distant future as the app has suddenly exploded in popularity as of late, continue to be able to access and use the end-to-end encrypted messaging app even as their governments block access to it. The Signal blog post puts the focus on Iran as they just recently blocked Signal, but I would not at all be surprised if nations such as China and Russia followed in their footsteps very soon. These proxies could end up being useful to millions worldwide.

If you have have set up a VPS before, and you have a spare domain lying around or an active one you don't mind creating a subdomain for, you can easily help out this decentralised community effort by running Signal's TLS proxy.

The instructions on Signal's site are very easy to follow if you are familiar with all this stuff already. So if you know how to spin up a VPS, point a domain at it, and install an automated Docker image just read the Signal post.

This post is a mini-guide for noobs with more specific instructions on each step. If you know your way around a computer but are a bit fuzzy on setting up a VPS, you are the target audience for this post.

Important note: Eventually the Iranian government, and other oppressive governments who may block Signal in the future, are likely to block the domain of your proxy. If this is a concern to you just pick up a cheap domain exclusively for the proxy. The IP of the server you use would be blocked too but this shouldn't matter as we will be using a separate VPS.

If you want your existing domain to stay accessible in countries with oppressive regimes, it is highly advised to set this up on a a new or unused domain.

Thankfully, this is a very lightweight application that will run on even a very cheap VPS. And a domain can be purchased for a couple quid a year depending on the TLD.

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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past month, you've probably heard about WhatsApp's new change in privacy policy which says they will share your information with Facebook even if you do not have a Facebook account.

There is no way to opt-out except by deleting your account and uninstalling the app. And it turns out, in a surprisingly positive turn of events, quite a few people are choosing that option.

Over the past month, a surprising number of less technical friends, family, colleagues, and people I met once a few years ago are signing up to competing messengers Signal and Telegram. And it's not just me. I even asked my parents, who are in their 60's and far from being tech nerds, and they too have seen many people they know sign up to Signal or Telegram.

In fact so many people I know did it that I finally felt comfortable deleting WhatsApp once and for all.

Even Elon Musk chipped in.

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