BitTorrent today released an internal alpha of its server-less chat app. The company says a private alpha launch is still “right around the corner,” but it decided to share some details about its approach to privacy as development progresses.

BitTorrent first unveiled its server-less chat app in September 2013. The company promised that it would be private, secure, and free.

Engineers working on the app have found that privacy means different things to different people. Ultimately, BitTorrent has concluded privacy is “the ability to express oneself freely with autonomy and to feel safe doing so. To not worry that the wrong friend will see a message that wasn’t intended for them.”

Since everyone has different needs, the app will allow users to sign up with an email address or a phone number. Those are both useful if you are importing contacts, but you will also have the option to sign up in “Incognito mode,” which requires no such information at all.

Users communicating with a trusted source who prefer their communication to be device-to-device will be able to avoid hops through third-party servers, meaning far less of a chance of anything being intercepted. Decentralization is definitely a key differentiator: most messaging apps today that encrypt their content still decrypt it when it passes through the centralized server.

Yet device-to-device communication will be an option, and not the only delivery method the chat app will offer. In scenarios where your identity needs to be hidden from the person with whom you are communicating, there will be an additional setting for routing communications via a relay server to obscure metadata.

BitTorrent explains how this method will work:

It will function much like a VPN: the IP address will touch the relay server, but no metadata will be collected or stored. The content is encrypted from end-to-end and never exposed to a third party.

Furthermore, regardless of how the messages are sent, BitTorrent’s chat app will always use its distributed network to minimize, and in many cases eliminate, the metadata that is created by other messaging solutions. If it works as promised, the app will likely be a hit.

BitTorrent Chat Private Alpha Signup

See also – BitTorrent launches Bundle for Publishers, its direct-to-fan distribution service, with 8 initial media partners and BitTorrent and uTorrent mobile apps on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone pass 20 million downloads

Top Image Credit: Paolo Gadler