Comcast to encrypt email after being called out by Google

Technology -

Technology companies have added encryption to some of their most popular services in response to the NSA's various surveillance programs.

Circa News
Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

Comcast confirmed late June 3 that it will begin encrypting its subscribers' email within the next few weeks, claiming that it is being "very aggressive about this."

Comcast's move to encrypt its subscribers' email came hours after Google publicly criticized it and other ISPs for not already doing so. Google subsequently said it was developing an extension that would automatically encrypt all Chrome users' webmail.

Many other tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo have also increased their use of encryption since the eruption of the NSA surveillance scandal in June 2013.

Yahoo said Aug. 7 that it plans to implement end-to-end PGP encryption for its email service. The company made the announcement at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas but did not say when it actually plans to roll out the end-to-end encryption.

People who use encryption to protect the contents of their digital communications are subject to closer scrutiny from the NSA than people who don't, according to documents published by the Guardian on June 20. The documents date back to July 2009 and were signed by Attorney General Eric Holder.

The development of popular encryption software TrueCrypt abruptly ended on May 28, with the developers urging users to seek alternatives. Edward Snowden has in the past advised people to use TrueCrypt in order to encrypt the contents of their computers.

More than five years in development, Tails, a Linux-based operating system that was famously used by several reporters to communicate with Edward Snowden, reached version 1.0 on April 29. The OS is free to download and use, but currently has only limited support for Apple computers.

"Ultimately, we're sensitive to the balances that must be struck when it comes to technology, security and the law… We believe these new steps strike the right balance, advancing for all of us both the security we need and the privacy we deserve." Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel

Microsoft in December 2013 said it would allow some of its customers to inspect its software's source code to allay concerns of built-in NSA "backdoors." The company called NSA surveillance an "advanced persistent threat."

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