To those few brave souls who disdain email, you have my deepest regards. I use email. I hate email. Yes, you may offer me condolences because I use an ancient form of communication that is rife with security issues and other problems too numerous to mention (ask Hillary Clinton about the perils of email). Email is not private. Email is not secure. Email is a scourge.
Here we are in an age where a whole generation has grown up on text messaging– which, thanks to the likes of Apple’s Messages app– is more secure than email, but less secure than we are being led to believe.
Sidebar: Apple claims Messages offers end-to-end encryption so nobody can intercept an in-transit message, but Messages often get stored in iCloud and that’s exactly where it is not encrypted.
For whatever the reason, email remains easy to hack into, easy to steal, and easy for technology giants to read whether you are around or not. Yet, here we are, moving rapidly through the 21st century, and nobody has a good email privacy and security policy for the masses. For now, a few technology giants and civil liberties groups are urging the U.S. congress to pass an email privacy law dubbed the Email Privacy Act.
The somewhat outdated law it would replace allows the government to dig into your most recent messages without a warrant. Personally, my email doesn’t have anything incriminating, and criminals who are so stupid as to use email should be subject to government search, but I understand the argument.
A backdoor that opens to one is open to all.
The aforementioned coalitions want more email privacy included in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act. Who supports it? Technology giants from Adobe, Amazon, Box, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, and Wikimedia, among many others.
What bothers me here is that such laws do not necessarily close the loopholes of reality. Why can’t Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and others simply come up with a new email standard which offers full on privacy and security that surpasses what Apple does with Messages. End-to-end encryption would be a start. And part of that system should be able to thwart spammers.
The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act sounds like it should help privacy when all it does is give authorities access to any email message unopened or within a six-month window– without a judge or warrant.
Yet what is being proposed is a stopgap measure that just doesn’t end the email privacy and security issue. I’ve reached that point in my adult life where I recognize how damaging email has become to humanity, despite the good intentions and ubiquity of email use.
A new email standard for privacy and security would be a good start toward a better future.