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Signal faces global outage following ‘technical difficulties’

End-to-end encrypted messaging platform Signal suffered a global outage on Friday night, following unspecified “technical difficulties”. This came just days after the messaging app saw a huge influx of people migrating to the service from WhatsApp, following the latter’s somewhat concerning privacy policy updates.

On Friday night, MediaNama tried sending some messages on the platform, but delivery of these messages failed. The app also showed a notification saying that “Signal is experiencing technical difficulties. We are working hard to restore service as quickly as possible”.

Messages started getting delivered at around 10:30 AM on Saturday for some users. However, these results weren’t uniform. Some features seemed to be working for some users, while for others, message delivery was still failing at the time of publishing. For instance, some users weren’t seeing read receipts even after the recipient had read the message.

Since this morning, some messages failed to send, while some were delivered without updating read receipts

“We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections,” Signal tweeted on Friday, during the outage.

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Signal had, earlier this week, trumped WhatsApp to become the most downloaded free app on both the App Store and the Play Store in India, as updates to WhatsApp’s privacy policy had left many a users concerned about their data being potentially shared with parent company Facebook. The updates, which are mandatory for users to accept for using the service, allow for a closer integration of WhatsApp into the larger Facebook ecosystem and group of companies.

WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy said that the service will use a device’s IP address, and other information like phone number area codes to estimate their general location, even if a user doesn’t use the its location-related features. Businesses that users interact with on the platform may share information about their interactions with users, with WhatsApp.

However, following the backlash that WhatsApp received for its privacy policy, the company on Friday announced that it was postponing its launch until May 15 (the earlier deadline for people to accept the policy was February 8).

An Advocate has also filed a case in the Delhi High Court against these updates, calling it an “absolute violation” of the right to privacy, claiming it gives the company a 360-degree profile of a person’s online activity.

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