New Messaging Standard RCS Won't Have Encryption

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Everyone is talking about a new messaging standard the Big Four carriers have agreed upon. It’s called RCS and it’s meant to replace SMS. But your RCS conversations won’t be end-to-end encrypted.

The CCMI neatly fixes both the first and the second problem. Garland says the carriers believe there are some implementation issues with the Universal Profile that the CCMI can address more elegantly, but it will follow the standard to ensure interoperability.

As for encryption, Garland wouldn’t commit. He emphasizes that the CCMI intends to make sure that the chats are “private” and that the app it’s making is “an experience [customers] can trust.”

Having Apple join the project would certainly legitimize RCS, but if it doesn’t have encryption I don’t think Apple will partake.

RCS, Successor to SMS, Could Come to Apple Devices

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RCS is a technology touted as the replacement for SMS. It will bring rich, iMessage-like features to texting, and major carriers support it. And it sounds like Apple is interested.

According to the purported slide from the conference, Apple has “engaged in discussions with the GSMA and Operators about including RCS in iOS.” This is inherently vague and doesn’t offer too many details about the extent to which Apple is involved, but the pitch seems to center on three things.

I find it unfortunate that RCS seems to only support encryption during transport, and not end-to-end encryption. Governments around the world would probably not let end-to-end encryption become so widespread.