Comcast to encrypt emails after Google report calls them out

Comcast seems to be reacting to the encryption-shaming Google undertook Tuesday by naming Internet providers who do not encrypt emails.
By Ananth Baliga   |   June 4, 2014 at 10:14 AM
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PHILADELPHIA, June 4 (UPI) -- Reacting to a Google report that said only one percent of emails sent to comcast.net emails were encrypted, Comcast said Wednesday it would encrypt users' emails to prevent snooping.

Comcast, which is the largest Internet provider by number of homes and businesses serviced, said it was testing encryption software and would begin to implement it more broadly within a few weeks. The move comes after Google called out Internet providers for not scrambling emails, the first time the company has divulged such information.

The shift to encrypt emails comes after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the agency's mass data collection program, which prompted large tech companies to make it harder for the government to spy on user data.

Google has been encrypting emails by default since 2010. The search giant scrambles the emails into a string of numbers and letters, which can be decoded using a key. But encryption works only if both the sending and receiving servers are using it.

So the company decided to list out email providers that did not use encryption, calling out Comcast and France's Orange service. Google said that none of the messages sent to France's Orange service were encrypted.

"Google's naming. We can shame," said Christopher Soghoian, a technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. "And we will."

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