Deutsche Telekom and United Internet launch 'made in Germany' email in response to PRISM

Deutsche Telekom and United Internet launch 'made in Germany' email in response to PRISM

Summary: In a largely symbolic gesture, the companies will provide SSL encryption for customers' emails.

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TOPICS: Security, EU
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German ISPs Deutsche Telekom and United Internet have launched a new secure email service in what's thought to be a response to revelations surrounding the NSA and its PRISM programme.

Customers currently using Deutsche Telekom's email service T-Online or United Internet's GMX and Web.de services will have SSL encryption turned on by default, and data from messages sent between these three services will be processed and stored exclusively on servers in Germany.

According to the German incumbent Deutsche Telekom, the launch of the new service, dubbed "email made in Germany", is presumably in response to recent reports that the NSA has been intercepting global communications.

"Germans are deeply unsettled by the latest reports on the potential interception of communication data. Our initiative is designed to counteract this concern and make e-mail communication throughout Germany more secure in general," René Obermann, Deutsche Telekom's CEO, said in a statement.

Last month, a story by the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the NSA is collecting metadata from up to half a billion communications in Germany per month (including emails, text messages, and phone calls.)

The move to launch secure email may be largely symbolic, in that email sent to addresses on servers outside of the country may not be automatically encrypted, at least until 2014. Additionally, SSL, which is already offered by major email services like Google's Gmail and Microsoft's Hotmail, can be intercepted and decrypted without advanced technical means.

The two companies already offer another encyrpted email service, called de-mail, which takes security one step further by requiring users to link their email addresses with their real-world identities, usually by registering with their state-issued identification card. De-mail receives the same legal protection as paper mail sent through the post.

Together, Deutsche Telekom and United Internet's email services provide about two-thirds of the email addresses in the country.

Topics: Security, EU

Michael Filtz

About Michael Filtz

From the day he brought home a modem and dialed in to a local BBS in 1991, Michael has been obsessed with technology and how it enables collaboration. He has a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has worked in and around the technology start-up scenes in San Francisco and Berlin.

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3 comments
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  • English

    Doesn't look like T-Online is available in English but United Internet is.

    Hushmail is another option. It's located in Canada.
    MajorlyCool
  • From the original NSA whistleblower

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6m1XbWOfVk&feature=player_embedded

    Enlightening summary of the situation in 10 minutes.
    Astringent
  • We need more self-help tools to keep last remnants of our privacy

    I think the NSA revelations are a much-needed wake-up call for people using the Internet. We've been too cavalier about it for too long. We willingly gave up our privacy. OK, we didn't know about NSA & PRISM. But we need to take action now to protect ourselves.

    Encrypted email is a good start. Get your stuff off the cloud where it's a sitting duck for NSA, not to mention Google, Microsoft, Apple, Dropbox or whoever is hosting it for you. They're ALL looking at your stuff, either to find reasons to get you or find ways to get your money.

    Still want to get to your files over the Internet? Then put them in something like a Cloudlocker (cloudlocker.it), which stays in your house where no one can get to it without a warrant issued on probable cause you're a bad guy. That's the way it's supposed to work. Hopefully, we'll see more products like this to help us ordinary folks protect what little of our privacy we have left. I think it's a sad commentary on our nation that we need such things to keep us safe from the people supposed to keep us safe.
    GHCro