Germany pushes for widespread end-to-end email encryption
The biggest webmail providers in Germany will soon encourage their customers to use full-blown end-to-end email encryption. The providers, including Deutsche Telekom and United Internet, will next month roll out a browser plugin that’s supposed to make traditionally laborious PGP technology easier to use – and in the process, they’re addressing a key concern about the existing “De-Mail” system.
The De-Mail initiative dates back to 2011, when the German government decided to push for trusted email both as an e-government tool and as a way to cut down on official and corporate paper mail. De-Mail addresses are provided by the likes of Deutsche Telekom and United Internet’s Web.de, and those signing up for them need to show a form of official identification to do so. Receiving emails on a De-Mail address is free but sending them costs money.
In 2013, shortly after Edward Snowden’s leaks started causing conniptions in Berlin, the providers announced that they would start encrypting emails traveling between their various servers – something they should really have been doing anyway. However, emails sent through the system are still scanned for viruses, using a system designed by the German Office for Information Security (BSI), before they are sent to the recipient.