The fallout from the NSA spying scandal has left many people unsure about what they should and shouldn't share across the tubes. But now BitTorrent has an answer: an instant-message chat client that uses decentralised data transfer to keep your communications safe.
Just released as a private alpha -- that means you need to visit the BitTorrent Chat sign-up page to get an invite -- BitTorrent Chat uses a decentralized process to pass messages across the web while making them impossible to intercept as a whole. While BitTorrent is reluctant to explain exactly how it works, it's apparently "similar to BitTorrent Sync, but adapted for real-time communications."
BitTorrent hopes that over time the technology will work with other instant-messaging accounts, but for now you're stuck with a dedicated BitTorrent account. It's also not clear yet quite how wide the OS web will spread -- either desktop or mobile -- but you'd expect at least Windows and Linux to be supported in the first instance.
Of course, part of the charm of instant messaging is widespread use; it helps if plenty of your buddies also use the same service. Whether BitTorrent can make that happen with its chat service remains to be seen -- but if it can shelter your data from the NSA, then it has at least a fighting chance. [BitTorrent via CNET]