The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that develops emerging technology for the military, wants to build a new encrypted messaging system based on blockchain technology.
DARPA is currently looking for suppliers that can develop the new system, which it said will speed up communications and help protect it from hackers.
Much like other publicly available messaging platforms, DARPA wants the new messaging platform to be accessible from a web browser or a standalone application.
A DARPA document calling for suppliers for such a system said there is a "critical DoD need" for it.
"A customized blockchain implementation means significant portions of the DoD backoffice infrastructure can be decentralized, so that documents and contracts could be instantly and securely sent and received," a DARPA document said.
Military troops and DoD employees around the world would also be able to use the new system to communicate securely. In this case, the Defense Department is ordering a tool very similar to what the public already has readily available.
As consumer companies like WhatsApp implement end-to-end encryption, it’s not surprising that the federal government expects it as well, especially in agencies that rely on top-secret information. Not only has the Apple/FBI debate brought this to light, the Edward Snowden incident also played a significant part. On Monday, FBI chief James Clapper blamed Snowden for "advancing the development of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption."
As a result of the Snowden revelations, Clapper said, "the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years."