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Google Likes Encryption; Joins Yahoo in 'Spy-Free' Email Project

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on August 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Edward Snowden fallout continues. In June, we posted about Reset the Net, a campaign to increase privacy to "stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday Internet."

Last week we saw Black Hat and DEF CON wrap up and with it, two very important announcements regarding encryption and spy-free email. Privacy, it seems, may not be a longshot after all.

Google Considers Encryption in Rankings

In an effort to show users that it is taking privacy seriously, Google has announced that it will "use encryption as a ranking signal." Noting that for now it's "only a very lightweight signal," Google indicated that in the future, "we may decide to strengthen it, because we'd like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the Web."

As a lawyer, how does this apply to you? If you have a website, then you should switch your site servers from HTTP to HTTPS. And, no, we don't expect you to know how to do this. Enlist a Web professional to help you with this conversion, and make sure she follows the suggestions and tips provided by Google.

Yahoo Joins Google in Spy-Free Email Project

Last week, Yahoo's new Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos announced that Yahoo would join Google in creating "spy-free" email, and that the company is aiming for end-to-end encryption in 2015, reports CNET. Not only that, he added that Yahoo Mail "would be compatible with the end-to-end encryption that Google is working on for Gmail," according to CNET.

That way, there would be secure communications for emails sent between Yahoo and Gmail -- so secure that even the webmail providers themselves could not view the email messages. As one cybersecurity researcher opined in The Wall Street Journal, "What's going to happen when the FBI goes to Google or Yahoo and says, 'I want the email from this guy,' and Google or Yahoo says, 'We can't give it to you?'"

That's a good question. But for now, we don't have the answer. We'll have to wait and see.

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