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Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of the popular encrypted instant messaging service Signal, has announced that he is stepping down as the chief executive of the non-profit in a move that has been underway over the last few months.

“In other words, after a decade or more, it’s difficult to overstate how important Signal is to me, but I now feel very comfortable replacing myself as CEO based on the team we have, and also believe that it is an important step for expanding on Signal’s success,” Marlinspike said in a blog post on Monday.

Executive chairman and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who famously urged users to #DeleteFacebook in March 2018 and founded the Signal Foundation along with Marlinspike after he walked away from the social media giant in 2017 over a conflict with Facebook’s plans to monetize WhatsApp, will serve as the interim CEO while the search for a replacement is on.

Founded in July 2014, Signal has more than 40 million monthly users, in part driven by a surge of new users in January 2021 when Meta-owned WhatsApp enacted a controversial policy change that sparked a privacy backlash over the nature of personal information shared with its parent company.

But the communication app’s rapid growth has had its share of downsides, what with the company’s employees raising concerns about the fallout stemming from potential misuse of the service by malicious actors, which could add ammunition to ongoing debates about weakening encryption protections to facilitate law enforcement investigations.

Complicating matters further is its decision to integrate MobileCoin, purportedly an “encrypted-focused cryptocurrency” into the app to facilitate peer-to-peer payments, a shift that could potentially put private messaging at risk by not only attracting regulatory scrutiny but could also serve as an open invitation for criminals to exploit the platform to their benefit.

images from Hacker News