Kim Dotcom’s Mega has launched a public beta of its MegaChat end-to-end encrypted audio and video chat service, which it claims will offer a more secure alternative to Skype.
The in-browser service forms part of the wider Mega web app (now on a new .nz domain), which also offers encrypted file storage and sharing. The technical details are currently hard to come by – I can only guess that it’s WebRTC-based, as it doesn’t require a plugin.
We are releasing #MegaChat beta step by step. Starting with video calling today. Text chat & video conferencing will follow soon.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) January 22, 2015
Mega has previously had poor ratings from security experts for its cloud storage encryption, but the New Zealand–based operation is offering a security bounty for anyone who finds flaws in its new services. That’s not the same as opening up the code for audit, of course – one reason to be somewhat skeptical about Dotcom’s claims.
Skype is certainly not a good choice for the security-minded: it’s not peer-to-peer anymore, and the Snowden documents suggested that the NSA has had access to Skype communications since 2011. [company]Microsoft[/company] has denied giving intelligence agencies “blanket access” to its services.
Security aside, in-browser video calls are set to become ubiquitous with the proliferation of WebRTC-based tools (Skype itself is heading in this direction, though its browser-based beta currently requires a plugin). Mozilla’s Firefox browser now even comes with a built-in Skype rival called Firefox Hello, which allows for Skype-style accounts and ad-hoc anonymous chats, too.