We belong to groups like families, schools and organizations where safety is a priority. Yet our communication tools are, with very few exceptions, unsafe. The owners of many chat applications can listen in on our conversations without us knowing1. Conversations are being mined to collect your personal information, to target advertising based on your contacts and your previously private wants2. And anybody with a code can spy on our kids' remote learning sessions3. Our communications have become less and less safe over the past ten years.
At Diskuv we built a safe network to solve these problems. We have a place on our safe network for anyone to send and receive secure text chats. And we have places for families, businesses, schools, non-profits, religious organizations and crisis support groups to securely communicate amongst themselves. If you share concerns about safety in your communications, please read on.
We started in 2020 by working backwards from the most difficult stories we wanted to support:
- We wanted a virtual location where someone in a crisis could enter and be reasonably confident that everyone else in the virtual location shared the same crisis. We call this virtual location a Sanctuary
- Alice, the executive director of a crisis network called "Brazil", creates a Brazil Sanctuary. Alice and another staff member are now Sanctuary Owners who are empowered to add and remove staff and clients called Sanctuary Members
- Brazil and its members are comfortable knowing that only their email addresses have been shared with Diskuv. No one at Diskuv can see their conversations
- Carol and Danielle are introduced to each other through Brazil staff. When they need someone to talk to, they've got each other
And naturally we support using Sanctuaries for ourselves. The founder has a Sanctuary for his family to communicate, in particular, with the youngest pre-teens. We don't think we should have to compromise between being able to communicate with your kids for emergencies, yet having your kids get messages from any person in the world. A Sanctuary creates an exclusive boundary where only people in your family can communicate with each other.
We think Sanctuaries are a great fit for many businesses, families, organizations and crisis groups. But you may not need the exclusivity. So we have our Outdoors, our virtual location outside of the Sanctuaries where you can send and receive secure text chats to anyone. You can sign up right now, download our Android app, and as long as you sign up before we close off the free memberships you will be to use our network for secure texts.
We had earlier researched an app called Signal -- in our opinion the best privacy app of 2020. Using a cryptographic technique called end-to-end encryption, the contents of conversations on the Signal network are known only to the participants in the conversation. Even the owners of Signal can not hear or see the conversations. The privacy features of Signal has won it recommendations from some of the biggest news organizations to protect journalists and their whistleblower sources. The end-to-end encryption makes the journalism conversations private. And with a bit of effort, a whistleblower can remain anonymous while providing their story to a known journalist.
We really liked the privacy portion of Signal. But there were features that did not fit with our mission. All of the popular communication apps, including Signal, let anybody see who is a member of that network, even if you are not a member. And the ability to be completely anonymous was a non-starter. So we did some significant modifications of Signal to remove those features, from which created an app called Diskuv Communicator and our own network. We'll iterate on the app based on feedback from our users. But it is our sincere hope that we can publically demonstrate that we're starting from a solid security and privacy conscious foundation.
- You are able to tolerate frequent app updates as we rapidly fix issues and add features like iPhone support based on your feedback. You may visit Alpha Updates to keep updated on our progress
- You might have you recreate your contacts and your sanctuaries after the alpha is complete. We will only ask you to do this if it significantly improves the safety of the network
- We are comfortable with our security and have released the source code for transparency, but the gold standard of having a third party security audit will not be started before the alpha has finished
- The Outdoors is limited to secure text chats. When we release new features like voice and video calling, you will need to be in a sanctuary
If you want to lead your own family/organization/employee sanctuary:
- You must be 18 years or older and a resident of the United States or Canada
- During the alpha, there will be no charges for crisis sanctuaries
- After you have logged into the "Outdoors" in the app, press the top right menu with the 3 dots, go to Settings > Advanced > Create a Sanctuary. We'll guide you through the approval process