While reading about Groklaw shutting down, Lavabit and Silent Circle cancelling their secure email services, I was thinking that we should all stop thinking about email as a private correspondence tool.
To be honest anyone who had ever been exposed to the inner working of email servers has always known that unencrypted email is not really private. The fact that a majority of users has always been under the impression that there was some significant level of privacy might very well be part of a general scheme to have access to their private information.
Maybe it’s time to change the way people think about email, and start considering it a publishing medium. After all since the beginning email has been used to publish stuff, mail lists predate the web by several years.
Whenever we send an email message we are in all effects publishing a message (i.e. making it public). It might not be immediately accessible to everyone, and by adding some addresses to the “to” field we might even have a some degree of control on who will be reading the message first, but that’s about it.
Maybe once a majority of people will start considering all email public, there will be an improvement in the quality of what lands in our mailboxes.
With the email problem solved, all we have to do now is finding another communication tool designed to be truly private.