Confide’s Screenshot Protection

June 7th, 2017

At least when your high school geometry teacher read an intercepted handwritten note intended for a crush aloud to the class you knew the source of the embarrassing leak and could hope to contain it. Now, it’s not so easy to tell who’s reading — and sharing — our digital secrets.

That has led some to seek out encrypted messaging apps that promise confidentiality in digital exchanges. One such program, Confide, claims its secret chat app erases messages as soon as they’re read by the recipient, allowing users to “[c]ommunicate digitally with the same level of privacy and security as the spoken word.”

Yet a class-action lawsuit alleges that one of the most-touted key features of the app — screenshot protection — doesn’t work across all the devices as advertised. Specifically, the lawsuit says the Windows version of the app isn’t equipped with the screenshot blocking technology, which is designed to keep both the message and the identity of the sender secret:

Though a consumer may use the App for iOS, which effectively blocks screenshots, the consumer might be sending a message to a user reading the message on the Windows App, through which they can freely screenshot the message for later use.

When the recipient has the Windows app, it also doesn’t alert users when a picture of a conversation is taken, nor does it boot the person who took the screenshot from the conversation despite Confide’s claims to provide such protections, the lawsuit alleges.

In response to an inquiry Confide co-founder and president Jon Brod said in an email that the allegations are “unfounded and without merit.” “We look forward to seeing this case swiftly thrown out of court,” he said.

Yet Confide admits on its own website that the app’s ability to block screenshots is, in fact, limited — only it’s not the Windows app but the iPhone and iPad versions of the app that lack the protection:

Confide prevents screenshots on most platforms and configurations. On iOS, where prevention is not technically feasible, our patented reading experience ensures that only a sliver of the message is unveiled at a time and that the sender’s name is not visible.

And here’s the screenshot to prove it.

Find more of our coverage on privacy issues here.

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