Using Signal to Communicate Securely

You want to contribute to defeating the Trump agenda, but you don’t know where to start. At the same time, you’re a bit nervous about doing anything in public because, well, let’s face it, Trump seems hell-bent on establishing himself as an autocrat. And we all know how autocrats respond to dissent!

So how does one securely communicate with others who wish to dissent? Certainly not by using social media, email, or texting.

The media are replete with stories about folks who thought they were having private discussions on Twitter, Facebook or other platforms that were in fact, totally public–usually because of a silly user error. Likewise, there are plenty of stories out there about folks whose private communications were subpoenaed or hacked. And we all know what happened to Hillary Clinton’s campaign once the hackers penetrated their emails.

So if you can’t use Twitter or Facebook to organize, and if regular phone calls, emails, and texting are similarly insecure, what tool can you use to securely communicate?

Use Signal!

We suggest you use Signal, a free iOS and Android application made by Whisper Systems. With it, you can securely text, group chat, share videos and documents, and call others via the platform.

Everything is done via end-to-end encryption so Whisper Systems has no visibility into what you’re doing — even if they’re subpoenaed, they have no information to give out. Even the amount of metadata they collect (who participated, when they participated, etc) is severely curtailed.

And by curtailed we mean, they know when you sign up for Signal, and the last time you used it, and that’s about it. For more information, check out this story.

Getting Started

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Download the Signal app onto your phone. (On iOS, you’ll find it in the App Store. Android users can find it on Google Play.)
  2. Once the app is on your phone, sign up by registering your mobile phone number.
  3. They’ll send you a six-digit confirmation code via SMS.
  4. Enter that confirmation code into the app and you’re signed up!
  5. The final step is giving Signal access to your contacts – you’ll need that in order to identify other Signal users.

The first time you open Signal and start a chat or call, you’ll see all the folks from your Contacts who have downloaded Signal. If you don’t have their registered Signal phone number, you won’t see them.

A great tip is to ask folks if they’re on Signal – once they download and register, you can start talking securely.

Here’s a great article on how to use Signal. It’s a great write up by the good folks at EFF.

7 thoughts on “Using Signal to Communicate Securely

  1. You folks mention using Twitter a lot, but I’ve never been interested in having a Twitter account. Should I be? I have an account on FB, as does my husband. Should we stop posting photos there? What about checking in… should we stop that too? Thanks for the info. We’re looking forward to working with you.

    1. Hi there. Thanks for reading. I think we all need to take whatever precautions we think are necessary. I myself don’t feel comfortable posting any photos that contain location metadata, nor do I feel comfortable posting vacation photos on FB or other platforms while I’m still on vacation (dead giveaway to people who might want to rip you off!).

      As for checking in to places – I’ve always been really iffy about it, personally. I just never felt good about other people knowing my movements and whereabouts. Other people don’t feel so weird about this kind of thing. The question you need to ask yourself is, what are the consequences of people knowing this information?

      Likewise, I think that in the coming 4 years, people will need to balance their need to dissent in a public fashion (vehement opposition to Trump’s muslim registry, for example) and understanding that doing so might garner lots of attention from the types of people who think it’s hilarious to send death threats to anyone who thinks different from them.

      So posting a photo of yourself at an anti-Trump rally (for example) might be a great way to show people what you stand for, and that might be a great thing, but it could also lead to trouble. For example, maybe you took the day off from work and your boss might object. Or maybe folks in your family might treat you differently now that you’re “out” as a Trump dissenter.

      For this group’s purposes, my mantra is the same – be mindful of everyone’s right to privacy. You may feel okay about posting a photo of yourself at a counter-protest, but someone else in the photo might not want to be revealed as participating (for whatever reason).

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