Future of secure messenger in doubt after Pirate Bay arrest

Collegues said they don't know how Peter Sunde's arrest will affect the development of Hemlis

This is what Hemlis is expected to look like.

This is what Hemlis is expected to look like.

The arrest of Peter Sunde for his involvement with The Pirate Bay has put the future of his latest project, a spy-proof text messaging app, in doubt.

Sunde was arrested by police in the southern part of Sweden on Saturday, officials there confirmed Monday morning.

Three and half years have passed since he was sentenced to eight months in prison for being an accessory to crimes against copyright law as a result of his involvement in The Pirate Bay.

Sunde has denied any ongoing involvement in The Pirate Bay, but his arrest could affect his latest project, a messaging app.

Hemlis, which is slang for secret in Swedish, was announced in July last year, and apps for Android and iOS are still under development. They promise end-to-end encryption using keys generated on the end user devices.

"By now the word is spreading of Peter's arrest and people are wondering if this means that Hemlis will be delayed. The honest answer is that we don't know. We will update the blog on Monday with more information," the project wrote on its Facebook page.

The Hemlis blog hadn't yet been updated by around noon GMT.

The idea to create Hemlis came following the revelations in the media about the extent of the surveillance programs of the U.S. National Security Agency and other government agencies, Sunde said last year.

In addition to Sunde, the Hemlis team includes Linus Olsson -- who also co-founded microdonations service Flattr with Sunde -- and Leif Högberg, Flattr's CTO.

The continued revelations from former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden about National Security Agency snooping has not only prompted the development of Hemlis, but of a number of other new security products and services too. One example is the Blackphone, which is expected to start shipping this month and purports to also offer secure communications.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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