Most nerds accept that email is not private. We are willing to send unencrypted emails to our friends, family and coworkers because it is convenient. We forget that email is really like a postcard, not a letter, so anyone along the way can read all the contents.
A few people use encrypted email. There are 2 main forms of this – x.509 and gpg. I’ve been using gpg more and more for unimportant communications, because it is my right to have private conversations over the internet. What is said between me and the other party is nobody elses’ business. Really, we are just chatting, but that isn’t the point.
Recently, a brave businessman has probably risked jail by not saying that his company was not asked to provide access to encrypted email sent by customers. There have been 2 encrypted email services shutdown by their owners in the last week. We don’t know why, but suspect a gag order by the US government prevents these businesses from talking.
Last time I checked, the 1st amendment to our Constitution expressly provided for free speech. It says (this is a direct quote):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Seems pretty clear to me that gag orders are unconstitutional.
It has been some very sad years since 2001. The terrorist have won. The US government is more of an enemy now than anyone else in the world, I’m sad to say.
While I wouldn’t trust any 3rd party service for my encrypted email needs, I know how difficult and non-convenient using gpg is. It is a hassle, but I encourage everyone to use it for all their emails. What we say in our email is nobody elses damn business. We shouldn’t need to fear what we say privately and shouldn’t have to worry that our more and more oppressive government is reading those conversations.
So, google “how-to gpg email” for your platform and email program and get setup with your own gpg keys. This is very important for people using those free, huge, email providers like gmail.
A few related articles:
Now the government has made me sound like a lunatic, but at least I feel better.