In the wake of recent revelations about NSA surveillance efforts, the co-founder of The Pirate Bay has launched a drive to crowdsource funding for a new mobile messaging app — one so secure that its creators say they couldn’t turn over people’s messages even if they wanted to. Hemlis (it means “secret” in Swedish), is being developed by Peter Sunde, one of the individuals behind The Pirate Bay, along with Linus Olsson and Leif Högberg. It’s described as an easy to use messaging app in the vein of WhatsApp or iMessage, with one important twist: it uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that nobody can monitor your messages. “No one can listen in,” the Hemlis site promises. “Not even us.”
The app won’t use advertising or sell user data, so to help bring the project to fruition the team is trying to raise $100,000 from potential users. The money will be put towards developing the apps themselves — iOS and Android are the targeted platforms — and the infrastructure needed for the system. While there’s no demonstration of a working app on the site, there are several mocked-screens that show off a bright, iOS 7-style design. In an FAQ, the group also says they believe the core app itself should be free, but users will have to pay to unlock additional features like sending images.
Those interested in funding the project early will be able to get a headstart, however. Donations from $5 and up provide customers with multiple codes for the full, unlocked version of the app — one for themselves, and others to share with friends. The Hemlis team states that if they don’t hit their goal all money will be returned, but they seem to be off to a quick start already: as of this writing, Hemlis has already raised over $18,500.