Signal's New Feature Lets Users Send Messages Anonymously


If you're someone who deals in sensitive information or cares about privacy, there hasn't been a lot of good news for you lately in the tech industry. But there might be a ray of hope.

Messaging app Signal as a rule tries to minimize as much as possible the amount of data collected about its users by using tools like end-to-end encryption. But in their latest beta release, Signal can hide who is sending the messages with a new feature called "Sealed Sender." Signal announced the development in a blog post Monday, where it compared the feature to traditional snail mail. 

"While the service always needs to know where a message should be delivered, ideally it shouldn’t need to know who the sender is," writes Signal's Joshua Lund. "It would be better if the service could handle packages where only the destination is written on the outside, with a blank space where the 'from' address used to be."

Unlike with physical mail, the app will typically only allow "Sealed Sender" messages between accounts that have already established trust with each other. And you won't get "Sealed Sender" messages from blocked contacts. But Signal has said it will allow users to turn on an option that will allow anyone at all to send them "Sealed Sender" messages. 

Users will not be required to put in much effort in order to opt in to get access to the feature. Signal says it will apply the "Sealed Sender" option whenever possible. 

If you're interested in using this feature, Signal is rolling out the beta release over the next few days. 

Users should still be cautious. There isn't any protection against someone taking a screenshot or forwarding a message without your consent.  And federal employees have other issues to contend with when using an app like Signal.