Thursday, June 19, 2014

End-to-end encryption can reduce the availability of free Internet services

The offer by Google of end-to-end encryption to Gmail users has been praised as a forward step in protecting user privacy, from less scrupulous advertisers, hackers, and government surveillance.  But Zach Miners, in PC World, is questioning whether the offering comports with the business models of most Internet service providers (social media and publishing services, as well as email) today, story here.  Google says that it is intended for users with unusual sensitivities, and that it doesn’t expect everyone to need it.  
Maybe.  But it’s easy to image the family issues:  older teens will want to use it to stop parents or schools from prying, and maybe some grownups will imagine they need to keep employers and insurers at bay, too.  

Miners points out that companies will not be able to target ads effectively if they can’t see the contents of emails.  Perhaps.  I’ve noticed when I travel that I see a heavy proportion of ads based on the city in which I am staying – on my PC as well as my iPhone, even as I use the same Verizon iPad for a hot spot (which of course knows where I am).   But these ads are based more on surfing and what I post in my blogs and tweets, not so much email.  (I see ads for “No-No” all too often.)  Nevertheless, the offering of services for free will likely diminish.   Maybe “Reid Rainbow” can make another “it’s free” video, specifically on what should be free online.   

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