1. While I agree e-mail SHOULD be private, reality is that because of the way it’s passed around electronically, it’s not. This isn’t to say that service providers should hand over or divert e-mails from someone because the government asks them for a copy. E-mails should be legally considered either the same as physical mail, or as a phone call, both of which require warrants to obtain and/or use in a legal prosecution.

    Technically, e-mail is about as secure as sending a post card or making a phone call on an analog cell phone (aka a walkie-talkie). You’re broadcasting your entire message to a network of mail servers, none of which you own, and asking them to route it to the appropriate person. None of the data is encrypted in any way, including the sender, the intended target, the subject, and the contents.

    Reality is, much like cell technology, e-mail was made by people who never envisioned how wide spread and personal it would become. It was designed to openly send messages to multiple other people within a private network, one that was secured in other ways. The protocol is simple, easy to work with, and has zero security, like many services of its time (FTP, HTTP, Gopher, Telnet, etc).

    Since it’s origins e-mail has had a few small “patches” put onto it, but most have focused on protecting the link between the “customer” and the ISP service. Even then they focus more on protecting the “password” used to access the mailbox, and not the content transmitted back. But that doesn’t change the fact that e-mail itself is transmitted from server to server, and often stored on the server without any protection what so ever.

    If you want actual secure communication via e-mail (or IM, or several other electric media formats) I suggest you look into the several PGP (or GPG) plugins available for a variety of e-mail and/or IM clients. While most can’t encrypt the sender and receiver (since they rely on the open relay mechanism to send/store the message), they can at least encrypt the contents.

  2. I read somewhere that Bush doesn’t have email because he wants nothing that could be subpoenaed.

    What got Nixon of course was the backups of the tapes. Email is routinely backed up by companies and ISPs. Which is something many don’t even consider.

    Agreed, email is not even slightly secure. Never say something in email you wouldn’t want known to others.

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