how does it work?
under the hood, milton uses some nice technology from the dat:// project to find peers and store data in a distributed way. hyperdiscovery and hyperdb are used for peer discovery, peer metadata storage, and message history storage.
all communications are encrypted with elliptic curve PGP, provided by kbpgp.js.
plenty of encrypted messaging services already exist, but almost all are centralised and controlled by a single entity. this means that with enough persuasion, or perhaps force, they could still be shut down or backdoored. no-one owns milton - it is under the total control of it's users.
your communications with another party are only stored by you, and them. they are not logged anywhere, not stored on a centralised server where they could be compromised. they could only ever be at risk if your own machine was compromised, and even then only encrypted content is stored - so without your private key, they mean nothing.
what about the name?
John Milton was a 17th century English poet. His celebrated Areopagitica, written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship, is among history's most influential and impassioned defences of free speech and freedom of the press.
He believed that the government should not censor works because the search for truth and understanding is an ongoing process and must be open. The search for truth, according to Milton, is a continual process, and an individual can never attain truth if the expression of some views is prohibited by licensing laws.
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.