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Signal Claims Egypt Is Blocking Access to Encrypted Messaging App

According to Open Whisper Systems, Egypt is censoring access to the encrypted messaging app.

Egypt has been censoring access to encrypted messaging app Signal, according to Open Whisper Systems, the company behind the app. The move highlights that as privacy-focused users move to technologies such as Signal, governments may still try to limit their use.

"We've been investigating over the weekend, and have confirmed that Egypt is censoring access to Signal," a tweet from Open Whisper Systems on Monday reads.

Signal is a free app available on Android and iOS, and also has an accompanying desktop client. Users can send text messages, photos, and videos using end-to-end encryption; meaning that those who intercept the communication, such as a government or internet service provider cannot read its contents.

Signal's protocol has also been adopted by other end-to-end encrypted messaging systems, such as WhatsApp and Facebook's Secret Conversations feature.

On Saturday, several Signal users reported that they were unable to send or receive Signal messages while using Egyptian IP addresses, according to Mada Masr. In response to user complaints, Open Whisper Systems tweeted on the same day that "everything is functioning normally on our end."

Other users reported that Signal was not working on ISPs TE Data and Vodafone.

Motherboard has asked Open Whisper Systems for more technical details on the alleged censorship.

Open Whisper Systems added in a follow-up tweet that the company is going to implement anti-censorship technology into the app, adding that the app can still be used in conjunction with a VPN or Tor.

Update: On December 21 Open Whisper Systems updated the Android version of Signal, which includes anti-censorship techniques for users likely based in Egypt or the UAE.