Email providers struggle with privacy, is Kim Dotcom to the rescue?
A new day presents another opportunity to mention Edward Snowden - this time regarding email privacy. Alongside today’s scathing Gmail revelations, and many encrypted services closing their virtual doors - is it possible to have a secure email service?
Last month, Lavabit, the encrypted email service which was used by Snowdon - the infamous US whistleblower – had shut down; causing many to follow suit including TorMail and Silent Mail.
Whilst these services are popular with those looking to hide their online communications; what is the stance of popular email services such as Gmail? Well, contained within a filing back in June, the company was found to state: “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”
John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, said in a statement: "I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don't expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it.
For the majority of users; this wouldn’t be too much of a problem. It’s still not comforting to think personal emails could be read without warrant, but it’s not as worrying as company executives who could be sharing private roadmaps and documents which could be detrimental to their business.
Most uncomfortable is the lack of care portrayed by this badly-worded statement by Google’s Gmail team about customer privacy.
However, in a previous statement to CNET, the web giant states: "No humans read your e-mail or Google account information in order to show you advertisements or related information."
But with authorities actively shutting down encrypted services, and others closing down on their own terms as to avoid any future legal repercussions - where else could these users turn?
MEGA’s controversial CEO, Kim Dotcom, who already likes to push government’s buttons – resulting in spectacular FBI mansion raids; has announced his company will be launching its own ‘cutting edge’ encrypted email service.
Very few details have been released about the new service yet, and since the project is described as being “very hard” it could be a while until we see public release. What we do know so far; it will sensibly be based on a non-US server, and feature similar encryption to the companies cloud storage solution – with a decryption key not even MEGA themselves can read.
In a blog post, Mega’s Chief Executive Vikram Kumar gives his thoughts on the recent closures: “These are acts of ‘Privacy Seppuku’ – honorably and publicly shutting down (“suicide”) rather than being forced to comply with laws and courts intent on violating people’s privacy.”
Most likely referring – albeit indirectly – about Lavabit. Instead of succumbing Edward Snowden’s details to the US government, the company “honourably” shut down.
On their website, Owner Ladar Levison, says: "I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit."
What do you think about Email privacy? Are you interested in a new service by MEGA?