Twitter Buys Security/Privacy Firm and Shuts Down Key Encrypted Voice Communication Tool in the Middle East

Relatively small tech company acquisitions are usually only interesting to people who follow the tech industry. And, that’s how Twitter’s purchase of the security and privacy specialist firm Whispter Systems was perceived when most of us read news items like this one on Forbes: Twitter Acquires Moxie Marlinspike’s Encryption Startup Whisper Systems

It is also reasonably common for products and services to be frozen or pulled when a small company is acquired. And, that is what happened in this case too as noted in Whisper System’s acqusition announcement.

The Whisper Systems software as our users know it will live on (and we have some surprises in store that we’re excited about), but there is unfortunately a transition period where we will have to temporarily take our products and services offline. RedPhone service will be interrupted immediately, but FlashBack users have a month to pull off any backup data they would like before that service also goes offline.

This where this relatively small acquistion apparently created an unintended big impact.

Twitter’s recent move shuts down critical communication line in the Middle East (The Next Web)

RedPhone, it seems, is a key secure voice communications tool in the Middle East. The free app was pulled from the Android Market and, as the acquisition announcement states, “RedPhone service will be interrupted immediately.” So, what is RedPhone? Here is the description from Whisper Systems’ site:

RedPhone provides end-to-end encryption for your calls, securing your conversations so that nobody can listen in. It’s easy to use, and functions just like the normal dialer you’re accustomed to. RedPhone uses your normal mobile number for addressing, so there’s no need to have yet another identifier or account name; if you know someone’s mobile number you know how to call them using RedPhone. And when you receive a RedPhone call your phone will ring just like normal, even if it is asleep.

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