Encrypted Email Effort Launched by Firms That Closed Earlier Services Under Government Pressure

Dark MailDark MailLavabit and Silent Circle may have shuttered their earlier encrypted email efforts under pressure to expose their customers to government spying, but that was just the beginning of a new secure communications project. The two companies, whose whole business plans are based on providing privacy, have joined forces in the Dark Mail Alliance to develop a successor to current email technology that will be much more resistant to surveillance than existing technology.

The Dark Mail Alliance describes its mission as:

To bring the world our unique end-to-end encrypted protocol and architecture that is the 'next-generation' of private and secure email. As founding partners of The Dark Mail Alliance, both Silent Circle and Lavabit will work to bring other members into the alliance, assist them in implementing the new protocol and jointly work to proliferate the worlds first end-to-end encrypted 'Email 3.0' throughout the world's email providers. Our goal is to open source the protocol and architecture and help others implement this new technology to address privacy concerns against surveillance and back door threats of any kind.

The reason for an "Email 3.0" is that the current approach to email is what Silent Circle's Mike Janke describes as "fundamentally broken from a privacy perspective." Even when encrypted, current email metadata is too easily captured, compromising the security of any communications even if the message itself is encrypted.

The new protocols and architecture are intended to be open source, and so available for scrutiny by anybody concerned about weaknesses or backdoors.

If nothing else, the NSA spying scandal may have given a huge boost to innovation in the area of protecting privacy. And this new effort may prove to be one of those steps startup guru Balaji Srinivasan urges the tech industry to take to empower individuals to "exit" the controlling power of government.

Facing similar concerns to those confronted by Lavabit and Silent Circle, secure VPN provider CryptoSeal recently stopped offering services to individuals (it still offers services at the enterprise level). As with the Dark Mail Alliance, CryptoSeal hopes to find a secure solution that would ensure privacy and security despite government efforts.

Lavabit owner Ladar Levison still faces legal action for ending his email services rather than surrender to government demands.

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    Dark Mail


  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They better be based outside the U.S.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Of if they're going to have their servers in the US, they should at least be cautious in maintaining their anonymity.

    &*%&ing; Dread Pirate Roberts had to get himself caught

  • Paul.||

    They better be based outside the U.S.

    I don't believe that "based outside the U.S." is any kind of silver bullet.

    U.S. Attorney: Yes, Gustav? You've got a server farm and datacenter we want to get at.

    Gustav: And why would my law enforcement office agree to such a thing? *holding cigarette upside down in that European way*

    U.S. Attorney: Because I am in a position to personally guarantee you half a billion dollars in law enforcement... aid to your organization if you cooperate with U.S. Authorities.

    Gustav: I'll have images of the servers by tomorrow night.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    Why? So intelligence agencies can go after them with impunity?

  • ||

    The whole "based outside of the US" thing is a canard. I mean, I wish it was't -- I would love for there to be a good way to dodge intelligence services simply by being choosy about where your service provider is located -- but the fact is most governments that aren't the US government's lackeys suck even more than ours. And a lot are both lackeys and suck more. And even countries like the PRC and Russia, which are far from lackeys, cooperate with the US government fairly frequently.

    Plus, if the NSA suddenly started caring about the constitution, you'd probably worse off dealing with foreign companies since now your communication would be with a foreigner and thus fair game.

  • Paul.||

    As I said in another thread, never base your security on the presumed fair play of your adversaries.

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    Clearly, anyone who wants to escape the power of government is a dead-end white guy living in a trailer park. I mean, with a name like Balaji Srinivasan, what else could this be?

  • Paul.||

    I absolutely believe that super-secure email and internet communications can be achieved over the internet which are impervious to government snoops of all nations can be created... I just don't know how you monetize them.

  • Outlaw||

    They have ways of making you talk and if you don't give them what they want you'll end up like that amateur Russian MMA guy they took out recently who might've known one of the Boston bombers at some point.

  • thorax232||

    Good to hear!


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