Google Criticizes Lack of Encryption Provided By Email Service Providers


"A call for privacy" was sent out by Google Inc. to competing email providers on Tuesday when they issued a transparency report. This report highlighted the rise in email encryption, something that has been pressing issue by many privacy groups for a long period of time.

In the report, Google stated that email should be protected as it travels across the Internet - yet in most cases it is not. An estimated 40-50 percent of emails sent are not encrypted on at least one end, the sender or receiver. Google found that email is neither private nor personal.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 4.54.45 PMGmail has always supported encryption in transit by using Transport Layer Security (TLS), and will automatically encrypt your incoming and outgoing emails if it can," Brandon Long, Tech Lead for the Gmail Delivery Team at Google, said, "The important thing is that both sides of an email exchange need to support encryption for it to work; Gmail can't do it alone.

Through HTTPS, Google's Gmail service can provide solid encryption for their users. However, just because Gmail offers encryption with their email services, that does not mean Gmail users are completely safe.

"The trouble is that encryption only works if both your e-mail program and your recipient's support it," Brian Fung, of the Washington Post, said. "So if, for example, you're on Gmail, but your friend uses [another] e-mail address, chances are your messages will show up unencrypted at the other end, because [that email provider] doesn't have encryption enabled."

Google has identified this as a problem which is why they are pushing their competitors to do the same thing.

"Our data show that approximately 40 to 50 percent of emails sent between Gmail and other email providers aren't encrypted," Long explained. "Many providers have turned on encryption, and others have said they're going to, which is great news. As they do, more and more emails will be shielded from snooping."

Google's not-so-subtle push has other email providers taking action. Comcast Corp., the nations' largest Internet provider, said that it too would scramble emails sent by its users. A Comcast spokesman said they would start testing encryption methods within a couple of weeks and plan on being "aggressive" in this program.

With Google leading the way, and others following in the very near future, all emails sent will be like a sealed envelope for the intended readers' eyes only.

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