Encrypted messaging app Signal has launched new feature allowing users to conceal their phone numbers and instead use usernames, in a move aimed at boosting privacy protections long sought by cybersecurity experts and privacy advocates. From a report: Rather than give your phone number to other Signal contacts as the identifier they use to begin a conversation with you, in other words, you can now choose to be discoverable via a chosen handle — or even to prevent anyone who does have your phone number from finding you on Signal.

The use of phone numbers has long been perhaps the most persistent criticism of Signal’s design. These new privacy protections finally offer a fix, says Meredith Whittaker, Signal’s executive director. “We want to build a communications app that everyone in the world can easily use to connect with anyone else privately. That ‘privately’ is really in bold, underlined, in italics,”

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