Google and other companies are using encryption on emails, but they are still not completely private. One thing that many people fail to realize is that the encryption is from the server side. It does not stop those at the email providers from reading the content of emails.
The encryption is simply to stop government agencies from reading the content of emails. There was a lot of backlash after the National Security Agency (NSA) admitted to snooping on everyday people. While officials claimed that it was a matter of national security, and was only done to weed out the suspects and potential threats, it made a lot of people question the integrity of the government. It then led to the question of what the email providers and social network sites were going to do about that.
Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook were annoyed at the government’s snooping. They wanted the law changed, but that is going to take some time. Instead, they had to protect their customers in other ways. Now, emails are encrypted after they leave the Google servers. According to the search engine giant, 65 percent of all emails are encrypted during the delivery process, and the receiver’s email provider has the ability to decrypt the message. However, only 50 percent of the emails being received are encrypted. Both numbers are up from 39 percent and 27 percent respectively from December 2013.
Yet, just because Google and others are using encryption does not mean that the emails are completely private. The encryption is during the delivery process. Emails are still stored on the company servers, and can be accessed from there. They are not encrypted, so all the government agencies need to do is get into the company servers and read emails directly from the source.
The good news is that there is more protection when it comes to this. Without hacking—which would be illegal as well as unethical—the government bodies need to have a legal warrant to request the information on the servers. The companies have a duty to protect the information of their customers to an extent. To get a warrant, the government bodies would need to have just cause.
While GMail may be encrypted, there are issues with other services. According to the tech giant’s security team, just one percent of emails are encrypted when going to and coming from Verizon or Comcast. There is nothing that Google can do, until the other companies increase their level of encryption. This is something it does reportedly want to protect individuals from government spies.
The best thing to do is think about the content of the emails. Anything that someone does not want sharing with others should not be written down. Wait until the recipient is available in person to talk to them face-to-face. Not only does this protect communication from government spies, but also from the companies spies and individuals. It is really important to remember that just because Google and other companies are using encryption it does not mean that emails are completely private.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham