Science and Tech


The One Thing Yahoo And Google Are Coming Together For

Yahoo will follow Google in providing end-to-end encryption for its mail users.
Posted at 9:45 AM, Aug 08, 2014

It's amazing what some will do in the face of adversity — you know, like partnering up with a competitor to bring better security and privacy to email users.

Yahoo has announced it will follow Google in offering end-to-end encryption for its email service. Better yet — encryption will work between the two services.

End-to-end encryption allows users to send an email that's unreadable to anyone but the sender and receiver. Sorry, National Security Agency.

According to CNET, Yahoo and Google "make up the vast majority of webmail users." By bringing full email encryption to the masses, the company hopes it will inspire a movement. The outlet quotes a Yahoo spokesperson who said, "the hope is that this is open and will be adopted by many others in the email ecosystem."

Forbes brought up an important concern from a business standpoint. Mail services generally rely on contextual advertisements, served up based on the content of users' emails. If Yahoo and Google are unable to scan those emails, won't it affect their bottom line?

Yahoo's security researcher says no. Forbes quotes him as saying, "We predict no revenue impact from end-to-end encryption. The ticket to Las Vegas that United emails you — and that we use to display Vegas ads to you — is never going to be encrypted. The kind of stuff that will be encrypted doesn’t have a lot of commercial value."

While this sounds like quite the dream for concerned consumers and privacy advocates everywhere, there is one main concern that comes out of all this:

Usability and roll-out. The Wall Street Journal notes users will have to learn how to use such a tool and will also need to learn how it works. The outlet quotes Yahoo's security researcher: "We have to make it to clear to people it is not secret you’re emailing your priest, but the content of what you’re emailing him is secret."

This video includes images from Getty Images.