If a large chunk of modern life is carried out online then surely handing over some of that chunk to another party means surrendering part of that life, perhaps reflecting the message of the Dead Kennedys album title “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death”. I’m struck by how I have been prepared to accept convenience over privacy and trust by using Google’s Gmail service.
You and I know that Gmail scans all my emails and uses the content to profile me (and anyone who sends me email), and thereby makes money in all manner of ways of which I have no knowledge. But in terms of usability the service is so convenient and the zero monetary price seemed so cost-effective.
It’s easy to cry that email is inherently insecure – “it’s like sending a postcard” – but if I want to send a message to a member of my family (we have email addresses on the same domain), then why should that be anyone else’s business but our own?
Having made the decision that privacy and trust are more important than money, what options are available for a more secure email system?
Land of the free, home of the NSA
Neomailbox is based in Switzerland and has been operational for ten years. Neomailbox has been making changes recently due to its concern that “it would be entirely possible for the neomailbox.net domain to be seized or redirected at the behest of the authorities in the USA.”
Countermail is based in Sweden and appears to be commendably paranoid to the extent of employing diskless web servers booted from CD-ROM. But might the paranoid also dwell on the unanswered questions of the Julian Assange situation before plumping for a company in Sweden?
MyKolab goes beyond providing just email and focuses on offering a complete workgroup solution, including calendar, todo lists and file storage. It’s based in Switzerland too and supports the open source development of the Kolab suite, which is the basis for its service.
A non-commercial offering from Italy is Autistici/Inventati but at the time of writing it is not accepting new requests for service due to the surge in requests following on from the demises of Lavabit and Silent Circle email.
Operating in Canada, CryptoHeaven offers secure email, encrypted email hosting, messaging and online storage, but being based in Canada there’s a chance that it might fall prey to the compromises that befell Hushmail.
I’m leaning towards either Neomailbox or MyKolab, primarily due to the fact that they operate under Swiss privacy laws which seem to respect an individuals right to privacy, and of the two, the MyKolab offering seems to be more holistic – I have been using Google Calendar as well as Gmail.
And if you’re asking yourself, “what has he got to hide?”; if that question had flitted through your mind then as, Major Neuheim was informed in Private Schulz, “the answer is perfectly simple, it’s none of your damn business”.