Twitter to open source code from newly-acquired Whisper Systems

Twitter has begun to open source the software built by Whisper Systems, the enterprise mobile security startup it acquired just three weeks ago.

This move confirms the, well, whipsers that the Whisper Systems deal was mostly made for acqui-hire purposes. It should also assuage some worries that Whisper Systems’ technology, which was built largely to help protect activists’ mobile phone calls and messages from being intercepted by governments, would be ignored or snuffed out completely post-deal.

The open source roll-out began on Tuesday with the release of Whisper Systems’ TextSecure software, which provides support for encrypted texts on Android devices. Twitter says that eventually all of Whisper Systems code will be made available as open source software, but the process will occur gradually. A blog post announcing the plan reads in part:

“If you follow what’s going on at Twitter, you hopefully know we are heavy consumers and producers of open source technology (@TwitterOSS); we love the stuff! That said, we also believe that open source is not something to do on a whim.

Before we fully release Whisper Systems’ code to the public in the coming months, we need to make sure it meets legal requirements and is consumable by the open source community. The plan is to open source the code in an iterative fashion… We look forward to seeing what the community builds around the Whisper Systems open source contribution.”

Whisper Systems’ two person team, Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson, both joined Twitter’s full-time workforce as part of the acquisition and remain at the company today. No word on what exactly they’ll be working on going forward, but with more than 250 million Tweets going through Twitter’s system every day and much of the company’s growth coming from mobile users, there is surely no shortage of projects there that could use the full attention of such mobile software security experts.

Open sign photo courtesy of Flickr user loop_oh