So, following on from various ‘hacks’ notably gmail and yahoo mail systems in the last year, where can you get a free and secure mail account, which is also not in the USA so the NSA and GCHQ etc can’t see your emails?
One place which is now doing for secure email what it did for banking years ago is Switzerland.
An unlikely source of free email is the “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire” or CERN. Yep, the folks with the Large Hadron Collider have created a friendly easy to use end to end encrypted email system. Otherwise known as The European Organization for Nuclear Research, and founded in 1954 by 12 member states, it now has a total of 22 member states with Israel as the only non-European country granted full membership.
Now, the history of encrypted email goes back to the 1980s but this involved PGP, and other not so user friendly methods of encrypting and then decrypting the messages and sending/passing private and public keys, another approach is like gmail where they keep both the key and the encrypted message – result is they can still read the email if asked by government agencies like the NSA.
CERN’s approach differs in that it’s firstly easy to use, and secondly it’s encrypted via the web browser (or the IOS/Android client), so all they store is the encrypted data, so they can’t pass on the key and the data to any agencies/governments.
The co-founders of the project are Jason Stockman, Wei Sun and Andy Yen who are adamant that the servers are in Switzerland and will stay there since the Swiss don’t record conversations or seize servers (at least not at the moment). They are supported by user revenues where users are paying for extra storage if they want it, and refuse to take money from places such as Google, since they feel it would affect their credibility. Basic accounts with 500mb of data/storage are free since in Andy Yen’s words “One of our motivations was human rights,” “Having privacy is very important from a freedom of speech standpoint.”, because of these privacy concerns they will accept bitcoin or even cash payments thus allowing paid users to remain anonymous.
Their revenue model also means they are ad free. Remember that Gmail scans your email’s and uses the data to provide ‘customised’ targeting of ads based of your email contents and other user data it learns from your use of their services.
Umm.. They may be NSA free, but with Israel being a member state, can’t help wonder if Mossad haven’t found a way round this yet….