Google Built End-to-End Encryption to Block Cyber-Crime, Not the NSA
NEWS ANALYSIS: Yes, you can encrypt your email using a new Chrome extension that's fairly easy to use. But do you really think that's going to keep the NSA from reading your email if it wants to?The blog entry by Google's Stephan Somogyi announcing Google's new End-to-End encryption tool gives some reason for hope that useful encryption may be within reach of nontechnical emailers. But assertions that End-to-End will somehow protect you from the National Security Agency snooping are overblown. In fairness, Somogyi doesn't actually claim that his tool will exclude the NSA. That's been done by others. Let's face it, if your goal is to prevent the NSA from reading your email, using Google's Gmail isn't going to work for you. There are several reasons, not the least of which is that the agency can simply get a court order for your email if it has reason to believe that you are doing something that it wants to find out about. Another is that in many cases, the NSA isn't necessarily interested in the contents of your endless yammering, but rather who you yammer with. In other words, in many cases the NSA is a lot more interested in your email metadata than in the email itself. If, upon examining your metadata the agency finds that you've been corresponding with its wide definition of Bad Guys, then it will go looking for the contents of your email with the aforementioned warrant. Encrypting the email in transit, which is what End-to-End encryption promises to do, simply won't matter.
So how does End-to-End become more effective than, say, translating your email into Pig Latin? Somogyi's blog post will give you a hint. He's really focusing on cyber-crime, not the NSA. Encrypting your email, and for that matter everything else, is an effective means of keeping criminals from reading your sensitive information.