Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

The CEO of the encrypted messaging application Signal, which exploded in popularity last year during a setback over WhatsApp’s privacy policies, is stepping down and will be replaced on an interim basis by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.

In a blog posting On Monday, Moxie Marlinspike said he decided it was a “good time” to replace himself as CEO after nearly a decade in the role, adding that he felt it was “an important step to expand on Signal” ‘s success “.

Marlinspike will remain on Signal’s board, he said. Acton, which co-founded WhatsApp in 2009, has “volunteered” to take over as interim CEO while the group continues its search for candidates, he added.

Signal provides end-to-end encryption which means that messages cannot be intercepted by outsiders. It has long been a staple for human rights activists, journalists and those concerned with privacy.

His mainstream attraction has grown early in 2021, especially when WhatsApp frightened users by changing its privacy policies so that certain payment and transaction data could be shared with its parent company Meta, formerly known as Facebook. The application also received a boost from Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who tweeted “Use signal” at the time.

“Signal has grown even faster in adoption and popularity around the world than I thought,” Marlinspike said. “I’m struck by how boundless Signal’s potential looks, and I want to bring in someone with fresh energy and dedication to make the most of it.”

Nevertheless, the organization’s recent decision to integrates an undetectable cryptocurrency, known as a privacy currency, in its application to facilitate anonymous peer-to-peer payments, has raised concerns that it could attract illegal activities and regulatory investigations.

Acton, who will take over as interim chief executive as Marlinspike steps down over the next month, sold WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014 for $ 22 billion. He left the company in 2018 after tensions with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over user privacy and his lack of independence from the parent company.

He has since become an ardent critic of the sprawling social media platform, which made the hashtag #deletefacebook popular during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Together with Marlinspike, Acton co-founded the Signal Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on developing “open source privacy technology” for communications, and is the parent organization of the Signal messenger app.

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