Icelandic start-up offers secrecy

Iceland-based social media platform Vivaldi aims to capture  users seeking to avoid aggressive advertising and government security forces, and hopes for a boost from the closure of a rival, says founder Jon von Tetzchner.

Vivaldi is offering strong data encryption and a promise not to use the content of private mail to generate advertising. "Our initial focus is on the computer geeks because they usually have higher demands for functionality, safety and privacy," said von Tetzchner, co-founder of internet browser maker Opera Software. "But a lot of ordinary people also worry about these things and we will welcome everyone."

The recently established Vivaldi.net currently offers a mail service, photo sharing, chat functions, a blog platform and discussion forums.

"There has been a lot of focus on safety lately, and it has mainly been focused on governments. But I think this is just as much an issue for the companies in this business," said von Tetzchner.

Vivaldi hopes for a boost from Opera Software's decision to shut its own social network platform on March 1 and aims to capture its several million users. von Tetzchner left Opera in 2011.

"As a society I feel that we should be more focused on limiting the massive surveillance we all are under from governments and from companies that use people's private information for advertising purposes," von Tetzchner said.