Bleep: A P2P, Secure and Private Alternative to Skype for VoIP

by Tracy Knauer •

Is Skype private? Not really. Bleep offers a better option for making free and private voice or video calls over the Internet using VoIP.

Skype, the leading VoIP app, offers basic privacy features, most notably built-in encryption. But Skype is closed-source software, which means only Skype developers know how it truly works, or what information the application gathers about users.

To put it another way: Back in 2009, Skype’s chief security officer ominously said, “We provide a safe communication option. I will not tell you whether we can listen or not.” What he implied was that Skype’s encryption prevents third parties from eavesdropping on conversations, but there is no guarantee that the company running Skype — or government authorities who can force the company to hand over information about Skype users — aren’t intercepting communications.

Fortunately, Skype is not the only VoIP product available. Bleep, which is developed by BitTorrent, was launched in 2014 to provide more privacy options for voice and video chats.

Unlike Skype, which connects to centralized servers where data can be monitored or collected, Bleep uses a peer-to-peer network for communications. As a result, “we never see your messages or metadata,” Bleep senior product manager Jahee Lee said. “As far as we’re concerned, anything you say is ‘bleep’ to us.”

Bleep also offers end-to-end encryption. Plus, users can send “whispers,” which can contain text or shared files and which disappear forever once a conversation ends.

Bleep’s downsides include lack of support for Linux (it runs on other major operating systems), incompatibility with Skype (all participants in a Bleep conversation have to have Bleep, which is free) and being closed source — which means that, like Skype, Bleep forces users to take the developers’ word for it that there are no privacy loopholes.

Bleep doesn’t provide as many concrete privacy guarantees as there would be in an ideal world. But for a free app, it’s certainly a more private VoIP solution than Skype.

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