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I would be interested in a blogpost going through Moxie’s argument with Matrix. I don’t know much about the project but it seems like Matrix doesn’t target normal users no?



I'm not Moxie, and I can't speak for him, but I have a good idea what the arguments are as I "do crypto". These aren't my opinions necessarily, I'm just repeating what I believe the arguments to be.

This can be summarized quite quickly (and for all federated/distributed protocols). Should you need to deploy some kind of feature or security upgrade to the protocol, a centralized system lets you do this for everyone (and more or less force them into it). A distributed system has the potential to end up like TLS, where "ciphersuite agility" can be a negative in that you end up supporting something relatively weak or otherwise problematic because one member of the network refuses to turn it off "just in case" one of their customers need it.

This is the distributed vs centralized part. From a security perspective, Moxie would also likely take issue with the server-side metadata in Matrix. If your "homeserver" is hacked (or otherwise accessed), my understanding is that it would likely contain a fair amount of information on who you communicate with and what rooms you are in, or you would be able to piece it together. Here's the schema for data stored server-side in the reference server: https://github.com/matrix-org/synapse/blob/master/synapse/st...

Signal by contrast is designed precisely to minimize the amount of data users expose even to Signal's own servers. Profile information, group membership etc, it's all encrypted.

Finally, Matrix doesn't E2E by default - not all clients support its double ratchet implementation. This has been getting better over time, but I'm not sure if you can still negotiate cleartext connections all the time or force clients to downgrade. Experience has shown leaving users to consciously turn on encryption is a bad idea. This is also a problem in PGP, XMPP/OMEMO/OTR, Telegram, SMIME etc. If you use Signal, WhatsApp or Wire, you cannot fail to turn on the crypto, which means non-technical users benefit from it without even realizing it.


fwiw we're aiming for E2E by default in Matrix for end of Jan (although it's going to be tight).

Edit: We're also working on minimising metadata by storing it all clientside and running peer-to-peer; see https://fosdem.org/2020/schedule/event/dip_p2p_matrix/


what's the plan after E2E is on by default? Can you still downgrade to no encryption or will you just block clients that can't do E2E?


you can’t really downgrade today. so yeah, if your client doesn’t do e2e you will either be running blind or you’ll need to use a daemon like pantalaimon to bridge the gap.


Matrix absolutely targets normal users, much as the Web does too. I guess on the Matrix side we'll put a blog post together to respond to Moxie's points.


> I guess on the Matrix side we'll put a blog post together to respond to Moxie's points.

I personally would love to see the blog post on this.


writing it atm



Fwiw one of the things I don't like about Signal is that I have to share my phone number, which makes it a poor fit for anonymous communication.




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