In the essay "Why We Encrypt" by Bruce Schneier he writes, "… If we only use encryption when we're working with important data, then encryption signals that data's importance. If only dissidents use encryption in a country, that country's authorities have an easy way of identifying them. But if everyone uses it all of the time, encryption ceases to be a signal. No one can distinguish simple chatting from deeply private conversation. The government can't tell the dissidents from the rest of the population. Every time you use encryption, you're protecting someone who needs to use it to stay alive."

I am fortunate in that I do not need to use encryption to lead a life of choice, but I can help others who do not have that choice just by using encrypted communication.

So I started using Signal Private Messenger for day-to-day communication. It installs on iOS or Android, costs nothing to acquire and costs nothing to use. It is open source and respected by people who know far more about encryption than me. I've found Signal to be sometimes faster than Apple Messages and in some instances more reliable. You can allow everyone in your Contacts to see that you are able to communicate using Signal or only those that you want to. And not only can you text for free but you can also make a phone call from anywhere in the world that has a decent wifi. That's a pretty good deal.

Signal does require that both sender and receiver use Signal; that's the only way to achieve end-to-end encryption. It's not a social network tool, it's a private network tool. You would probably only use it with your friends - but then aren't they the people you talk to the most anyway? So if you are a friend of mine, how about downloading Signal and using it when you call or text me?

Who knows. In doing so you might help someone out there stay alive.