Search giant Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently announced plans to encrypt emails in efforts to protect users from prying eyes. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) just announced plans to follow Google’s route to encrypt data for user emails as an optional feature that users have to opt-in for.
Yahoo to offer email users the option to encrypt emails
Yahoo’s CISO Alex Stamos explained to Wall Street Journal that the privacy changes are not a panacea for all privacy issues. It will only protect the content stored inside the email and not the subject or email destination. During the Black Hat security conference, Stamos also said they have to clarify to people the person you were emailing would not be secret, but the actual content inside the email would be secret.
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Yahoo plans on unrolling the new feature later this autumn. The company first announced plans to encrypt services late last year after Edward Snowden’s leaks. Just last April, the company also claimed it would encrypt traffic between data centers and Yahoo messenger service.
A concern for user privacy
Back in 2013, former government agency employee Edward Snowden started to leak secrets from the National Security Agency (NSA), which prompted serious concerns regarding internet privacy. Yahoo and Google are making an effort to alleviate user concerns by offering them the option to encrypt their emails. Cybersecurity researcher/chief technology officer of Co3 Systems Inc Bruce Schneier believes these moves actually disrupt what was initially a public-private surveillance partnership. He explained that if the FBI was to go to Google or Yahoo and ask to see emails from a specific person, the email companies would say no.
Microsoft previously announced it was working on a way to offer encryption technologies on it’s email service. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) owns Outlook email service and the former Hotmail email service with a total of over 400 million active email accounts on both services. Google has over 420 million active Gmail users and Yahoo has 110 million email users.