Remember last week, when the alt-smartphone company Nothing — pause for the sigh — announced that it was releasing an app, dubbed Nothing Chats, that would allow its customers to send blue-bubbled iMessage sans iPhone? Well, forget about it. As Ars Technica reports, the messaging service didn’t even make it a full 24 hours on Google Play before researchers discovered that the system was plagued with egregious privacy issues.
Sunbird, the platform on which Nothing Chats was built, promises to provide users with “end-to-end encryption” for their messages — a claim that was reiterated by Nothing on its since-updated landing page for the Chats feature.
“Nothing Chats is built on Sunbird’s platform and all Chats messages are end-to-end encrypted,” the Nothing webpage read, “meaning neither we nor Sunbird can access the messages you’re sending and receiving.”
But as it turns out, the app was anything but encrypted, with tech-savvy researchers quickly finding that Nothing and Sunbird were storing users’ messages and attachment links in plain text. This would make the text data easily accessible to folks at Nothing, Sunbird, and anyone else who could gain access.
“Nothing Chats app (skinned Sunbird) is an absolute privacy nightmare that sends/stores ALL data unencrypted on firebase,” one such researcher, who goes by “wukko” on X-formerly-Twitter, wrote in an X post on Saturday, adding that “for whatever reason” the app also sends “ALL messages and attachments” to Sentry, the crash-reporting cloud platform.
Wukko’s allegations were corroborated by researchers over at 9to5Google and Texts.com, who collectively concluded that Nothing and Sunbird were essentially storing user texts, images, and all other attachments — PDFs, videos, you name it — in broad daylight.
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