D. Štrbac

Email or Privacy, Pick One

The email infrastructure and communication tools we rely on today fall short of meeting the demands for absolute privacy and secrecy. While striving for enhanced privacy, we inevitably encounter limitations elsewhere.

In the pursuit of complete privacy, messages must be encrypted end-to-end, ensuring that only the sender and intended recipient possess the keys to unlock and read the content. Yet, a critical question arises: how can the infrastructure responsible for receiving and processing messages effectively identify and filter out spam without access to message content or metadata? It becomes evident that the goals of robust spam filtering and total message privacy are fundamentally at odds.

This challenge extends to the common practice of forwarding or delegating messages, often facilitated through aliases or automated systems. If third parties lack the decryption keys required to unlock messages originally encrypted exclusively for the intended recipient, how can messages be seamlessly forwarded as usual? This conundrum highlights the inherent complexities in attempting to balance unwavering privacy with the convenience and functionality we've come to expect from email systems.

Various features we take for granted in email, such as forwarding, webmail accessibility, online search and indexing, auto-categorization, server-side filtering, attachments and virus scanning, and collaborative editing, are simply incompatible with the foundation upon which email was initially built.