CLUP.chat: Shared group chats for WhatsApp, Signal & Telegram

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Part of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) passed by the EU are requirements that force messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage to enable cross-platform chats. With the CLUP.chat service from the Berlin company CLUP.life, this is already possible between WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram.

DMA enforces interoperability< /h2>

The DMA applies from May 2, 2023 and must enable users of WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger to reach users of the other platforms directly without having to use this app as well. After a transition period of four years, this applies not only to personal chats but also to group chats. In this way, the EU wants to prevent people from actually being forced to use a service because the majority is already using it – when Signal was launched, for example, many wanted to renounce WhatsApp so as not to pass their data on to Meta (Facebook), and have their friends to switch to prompted, but then stayed with WhatsApp due to the many friends who could only be found there and now use both services in parallel. However, providers such as Signal, Threema or Telegram are not yet subject to this obligation; these smaller providers can decide for themselves whether or not to open up to interoperability with the competition.

However, the obligation for the interoperability of the chat platforms is also viewed critically, since it could break the end-to-end encryption of the messengers. Since the services do not use the same encryption, there must be a common interface that can translate encrypted messages in both directions.

CLUP.chat connects Messenger

CLUP.chat is a service that already allows users to connect WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram group chats by using a chat bot in group chats. The messages in group chats are automatically synchronized between the messenger services. Other messengers such as Discord, Skype, Threema, Slack and others are to follow in the future. As intended by the DMA, users do not need to install any additional messengers or apps, but can continue to use just their preferred messaging service. For interested parties, CLUP.chat is now available free of charge in early access at https://clup.chat.

According to its own statements, CLUP.chat is the first service in the world that guarantees communication in group chats between the services without sharing the metadata of the users across platforms. The CLUP.chat servers are in Germany, so the data is subject to the GDPR. With CLUP.chat, however, an additional company has access to the users' personal data – it remains to be seen to what extent this will not be the case in the future for communication between each other offered by the respective apps.

In order to use the service, it is necessary to create a user account on the website. The service then creates a new group on all three platforms with the title entered by the user and provides WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal invitation links to the new group. However, the respective link still has to be shared with the people you want to reach who are not represented on your own messenger of choice, e.g. via SMS or e-mail. However, the invited persons do not then have to register with CLUP.chat.

CLUP.chat has access to messages

The new service cannot avoid the problem that the end-to-end encryption has to be broken at one point. By adding the chatbot, the company receives the profile information of all participants, such as phone numbers, profile names, profile photos and status messages. The contents of the chat messages are also disclosed and the chats are saved. The communication between the users and CLUP.chat then takes place exclusively in encrypted form, but the messages from all users are first decrypted on the company's servers and then encrypted again to match the respective chat platform and sent to the respective users. When asked by ComputerBase, the company states that the data will only be used to provide the service. The data is also not passed on to third parties (not even anonymously or aggregated).

Due to this flow of data and messages, it is the responsibility of the creator of the chat groups to inform their friends whom they invite to the groups and to obtain their consent for data sharing. CLUP.life points this out to the user in the terms and conditions. The company is currently working on ensuring that users are also informed about the process and the data protection guidelines when they enter the chat and that an overview is displayed of which participants are active in the respective group chats of the other messenger services.

ComputerBase has received information about this article from CLUP.life under NDA. The only requirement was the earliest possible publication date.