Two encryption communication service providers have taken to Kickstarter looking for public support to build the first truly secure email service. Ladar Levinson, founder of Lavabit, and Silent Circle are the people behind the initiative working to create what they call Dark Mail clients.
What Is Dark Mail?
Dark Mail is the name that Levinson and Silent Circle have given to the proposed new email protocol that encrypts both the body of the email and the metadata include within header. This metadata includes important identifiable data like sender information, the recipient, subject lines, and more.
Ultimately, the hope is to turn the Dark Mail Kickstarter into an open source protocol that is available to all in order to propagate the encrypted service to all email providers.
The most significant weakness to encrypted email is the metadata, since this information cannot be hidden from external observation. This weakness is highlighted by the NSA spying information, which has leaked steadily into the public consciousness since Edward Snowden's revelations this summer.
The key to the Dark Mail protocol and ideals is that email security would be protected from both spying and governmental edicts. Currently, the US government can subpoena email data and the companies must hand the data over that includes all unencrypted metadata. With the Dark Mail protocol, metadata would be encrypted and email service providers could safely hand over all requested information without fear from customers that their private data would be visible or usable to anyone.
Dark Mail For All
The second key aspect of the Dark Mail protocol Kickstarter campaign is the hope that by making the protocol open source the service would see widespread adoption. The ultimate goal of the Kickstarter founders is for the Dark Mail protocol to be built-in to email clients making the encryption service easy to use for all consumers.
Currently, metadata encryption requires some technical knowledge and the ability to troubleshoot installation issues and set-up difficulties.