Google Identifies Companies with Unsecure Email Practices

June 20, 2014
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By Shannon Perry

Google recently released a free Video Quality Report, a means for Internet users to determine the quality of their Internet connections and to compare the speeds of their Internet service provider with other local ISPs. Much of the tech community received the report positively because the increased transparency – although it has the potential to “shame” ISPs that provide inferior service – will likely result in more competition and a better product for consumers. So it did not come as a surprise that Google debuted another transparency measure in a blog post dated just a few days later.

On June 3rd, Google publicly announced more free information for Internet users in its official blog; with a new section of its Transparency Report, Google will identify which companies encrypt your emails and which companies do not. The post explains that although Gmail automatically encrypts emails, that information remains secure only if the company on the receiving end of the email uses encryption as well. The motivation behind providing the information is to encourage companies that do not utilize encryption methods to start doing so by making the public aware of exposures.

The blog post also announced that Google plans to create a plug-in for Chrome that will enable individuals to encrypt emails end-to-end. “Today we’re making available the source code for End-to-End, a Chrome extension. It’s currently in testing, and once it’s ready for general use it will make this technology easier for those who choose to use it.” After the plug-in is scrutinized and approved, Google will make it publicly available in yet another effort to secure information.

Google’s announcement also requests readers to check out Reset the Net, a campaign to limit governments’ capabilities to conduct mass surveillance. The release of Google’s new service comes just two days before the start of the protest, which is hosted by non-profit advocacy group Fight for the Future.

Google’s addition to its Transparency Report is yet another example of pushback fueled by Edward Snowden’s revelations last year. With these new services and Reset the Net coming out in just the first week of June, we will likely continue to see a rise this Summer in efforts to make online actions more secure.