Security in online communications has become one of the hottest topics in Europe over the past year or so since the NSA spying revelations, and especially in privacy-obsessed Germany. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that a major German concern – in this case Deutsche Post – has launched a free messaging service with end-to-end encryption.
And the postal service, which is known internationally for its DHL package delivery brand, has also said that data generated with the SIMSme app will not leave the country. Germany is renowned for its stringent data protection and privacy laws, something which led Chancellor Angela Merkel to call for a European-only communications network – and for telco giant Deutsche Telekom to propose a purely German Internet.
SIMSme is a free iOS and Android app allowing users to securely send text messages, photos, videos, contact details and location information. All messages are automatically encrypted by the sender and can only be decrypted by the recipient, something which Deutsche Post says “makes eavesdropping by third parties impossible.”
All the data is stored solely on servers in Germany, and messages are deleted after delivery to the recipient. If that’s not enough for you, there’s even an option to add another layer of security in the form of a Snapchat-esque ‘self-destruct’ feature for particularly sensitive messages for €0.89.
The platform does, however, require your mobile phone number for account verification as well as encrypted comparison with other contacts on your phone to see who else you know uses SIMSme. If a contact is not registered, you can invite them to do so via channels which are slightly less security-focused – text, email or Facebook.
The app has, however, been designated as a ‘Trusted App’ after testing by mediaTest digital and TÜViT, the tech version of Germany’s respected consumer testing associations.
Marco Hauprich, senior vice president of mobile and new media at Deutsche Post, said: “For over 500 years, Deutsche Post has been entrusted with the secure and confidential delivery of informations. Now this also applies for the popular instant messages between smartphones. We guarantee the highest level of data privacy according to strict German laws, without requiring any extra effort on the part of the user.”
He added that SIMSme would not be used for any advertising purposes, unlike other messaging platforms. Rather, a possible future revenue stream could be developing a version for business use.
Given the intense interest in Germany regarding online security and privacy, and especially with trust in the usual source of new technology, the US, at a new low, this seems like a good move on the part of Deutsche Post – in fact, it’s surprising it hasn’t happened sooner.
Mind you, given Deutsche Post’s occasionally poor reputation for reliability when it comes to snail mail, it may have some work to do in building trust for SIMSme – although it does have some form when it comes to the digital world.