Email

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GNU/consensus/Broken/Email

Email

Messaging

Availability
Desktop, Mobile

Electronic mail (email) is one of the oldest Internet messaging technologies in use.

It was not conceived to protect contents and metadata: GnuPG solves the content issue with encryption, and LEAP addresses the metadata part. Still, these solutions require

symmetry of implementation (both sides need to implement the module.)

Features

...

Pros

  • Mainstream recognition

Cons

  • Advanced usage can be difficult
  • No content protection by default (see GnuPG)
  • No metadata protection by default (see LEAP)


Email Usage

Email clients are available and usually installed by default on most OSes. The "From:, To:, Subject:" triad is well-understood by users and replicated on many other messaging systems.

Caveats

Lack of Confidentiality

It's terrible for a messaging system to lack confidentiality, as confidentiality of correspondence remains a common rule in modern society, although the past decade saw anti-terrorist rule attack this constitutional right. GnuPG solves this for the content of the envelope: it encrypts the content, but leaves the envelope public.

Lack of Metadata Protection

Sending email is like sending postcards or flying colors: it's there for everyone to see from the starting point to the end point. Although it doesn't feel like it (and it shouldn't), sending email is more like shouting over a crowd than whispering to your neighbor's ear. We think it should instead resemble its analogical equivalent, now nicknamed "snail mail". Even better, the cover of the envelope should be scrambled in a way that does not require the intermediary transporters ("postmen") to learn anything from the origin or destination of the message. This is what the LEAP project is trying to do.