Google and Yahoo are joining forces to create a tool that will encrypt messages sent and received between users.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the two tech giants will create a tool based on PGP encryption that will encrypt data contained in messages, but not the sender/receiver’s emails or the subject line.
PGP encryption is a way of encrypting data, and it hasn’t been cracked yet. It relies on users having their own encryption key stored on laptops, tablets and smartphones instead of traditional webmail services, where tech companies hold passwords and usernames.
Further, there is no password-reset function, and it traditionally hasn’t been the easiest form of encryption to use. But Google and Yahoo hope to make it less painful in a widely-used consumer service.
All consumers would have to do is click a button to turn it on and off, meaning the companies won’t force anyone to use it.
This form of encryption is so powerful that the email providers themselves won’t be able to decrypt the messages.
More importantly, nosey hackers and government officials won’t be able to peek at the messages either.
Ever since former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden blew the lid off the agency’s spy programs, people have become more aware of online privacy and ways to keep wandering eyes from peering at citizens’ data.
Yahoo said it’s currently testing ways of getting encryption keys on mobile devices.
It’s not surprising that these companies would move forward with a message encryption tool. Back in November 2013, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the NSA’s alleged spying on data centers is “outrageous” and that its strategies of pulling hundreds of millions of records to find a few hundred is “bad public policy” and even “illegal.”
In December 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama met with tech leaders like Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Google’s Schmidt to discuss privacy after the NSA revelations.