With the specter of government surveillance hanging over this post-PRISM world, people are beginning to wonder if the idea of secure email is complete nonsense.
Ever since the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing the extent of the spy agency's monitoring activities, many are convinced that email can never be completely safe from prying eyes, and some have even given it up entirely. In recent weeks, two services that promised to offer completely secure email — Lavabit and Silent Circle — have shutdown, apparently because they couldn't stop the government from breaking their security.
But the reality is that email is an integral part of both our personal and professional lives — something that most of us can't give up without alienating friends and family and ditching our day jobs. We have no choice but to find new ways making it safe. "E-mail is going to be with us for a long time," says Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson, a software developer and member of the Icelandic Pirate Party. "We need to do what we can to make it more secure."