Sometimes we take for granted that our email is somehow private. We use a password to get in and nobody else can see it, or so we think. Many of us know the truth about email privacy (or lack thereof) and still our brains “feel” like it’s still safe. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m reading your email. All of it.
Of course, I’m kidding about that, but your employer could probably make that statement to you. At your job, your employer has a policy on what can and cannot be sent on their email system. Did you ever violate it? I know I have on one of my previous jobs. Thankfully, I did not get fired like the people in this article: Fired For Sending E-mail.
Do you know how many internet servers your email hits before it arrives at the recipient’s inbox? Did you know that your email loses its status of “protected” after 180 days? At that point all that is needed to legally obtain copies is a subpoena.
According to http://public.findlaw.com/internet/email-privacy.html:
Because your emails are stored locally, at your ISP, and on the receiving end, there are multiple points that hackers or law enforcement can gain access to. While it may be difficult for law enforcement to legally gain access to your home computer and local copies of your emails, it is substantially less difficult for them to get your ISP to turn over your emails.
The email providers probably have something in the agreement that removes any reasonable expectation of privacy from your email. Besides that, did you know that Patriot Act Email Spying is Approved? That means that no criminal behavior need be suspected and they can read your electronic communications.
People generally say that they aren’t doing anything wrong so they don’t care, but sometimes things are pulled out of context, misconstrued, or just plain fabricated. Now, I’m not planning terrorist plots by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I’ve made a joke about blowing something up. Haven’t you? Should the government have the right to pull that out of context and make criminals out of us?
The 4th amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. There is a reason that the founding fathers wanted Americans to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”. It is because government is known for being up to no-good and violating people’s privacy. Moreover, hackers are always on the prowl to find private information about you. They check your email whenever possible. If it’s not government, it’s a hacker. If you want privacy, you don’t have it until you are encrypting your email.
How do you encrypt your email? Using Thunderbird, Enigmail, and GPG4Win. My tutorial is coming soon.
Another option is the use of s/mime certificates. Normally they cost money but you can get one free at http://www.instantssl.com/ssl-certificate-products/free-email-certificate.html.