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March 30, 2016

Screenshot Concerns About Messaging Lost With Privates!

Messaging apps are an ever-increasing part of the mobile environment, and there are reports that the younger generations of users are preferring messaging to email, enough to make some wonder if email's relevance is dying off. Messaging has an Achilles' heel, however, in that it's easy to capture the text of a messaging exchange with a simple screenshot. That's a development that RXN's new messaging app, known as Privates!, looks to stop.

Privates!' big feature is a breed of screenshot prevention technology that makes it impossible to send or leak copies of messages without authorization in advance. Following this up is the ability to actually retract a previously sent message, assuming it hasn't actually been seen in advance.

Users get what's known as a “Privates! ID” that's used instead of a phone number or email address to share out, which in turn protects the privacy of the message's origin point. With this, users can converse privately, knowing there are several steps in place to protect the user's privacy. There are three levels of security involved in Privates!: mild, wild, and insane, with each level providing different security benefits. Users recover messages by physically tapping a set of buttons on a mobile device. There's even a feature that tracks how many times a screenshot was attempted, with the output of said tracking sent back to the message's originator.

That makes it not only suitable for everyday users who want to protect personal information—particularly those engaging in online dating—but also for business users, particularly those governed by various privacy protection laws like in healthcare or in legal fields. Privates!' protective measures are at last report sufficient to stand up to HIPAA code, as well as maintaining attorney-client privilege.

It's easy to see why such a messaging system would be worthwhile; the growth of messaging in general makes messaging tools valuable, but the inherent flaw of messaging—the easy archiving and replication, sometimes without consent—can be a problem. So a messaging tool that addresses one of the biggest problems connected to messaging could be an absolute blessing to the market. The problem here, of course, is that there are a host of messaging apps in the field already, and changing to another app—even one that offers a clear benefit—is difficult to do. Exporting contact information, convincing friends to make the jump...these things are just part of the puzzle, and one that most would rather solve by just staying in place.

Privates! offers an excellent idea in messaging: a secure means to transfer messages, sufficiently secure to address legal matters around messaging. Privates! will also have to, however, break the inertia around sticking to a currently-used system to succeed. It's going to have to make a very strong case to do that, and privacy alone may not be enough.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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