Dark Mail alliance is the non-profit group formed by the leaders of Silent Circle and Lavabit.
Silent Circle offers a suite of secure, communication services, while Lavabit is the secure email provider used by Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA contractor now living in Russia.
The group was announced late last month, with the objective of developing a new email protocol that has end-to-end encryption built-in. (See Dark Mail Alliance aims to offer Email 3.0, with built-in end-to-end encryption.)
To further clarify the goals and objectives of the alliance, Mike Janke, the CEO and co-founder of Silent Circle, sent an email to those who have registered with the group. The gist of it is this. Dark Mail is the name of the alliance, but the service that will be based on the protocol can be called by any name that the email provider chooses. The full text of the email follows:
Our quest to modernize the worldwide architecture of email has begun. This is not going to be a rapid process nor will this change happen globally within a year. It is a journey and one the Dark Mail Alliance is committed to. This is not a business venture, but a moral and technological journey. Welcome to the beginning of secure email.
From all of us at Silent Circle and Lavabit, we want to thank everyone who has contacted us for information, support and to join this new quest to build email as a Privacy-by-Default tool. A lot has happened since we announced our technical alliance and intentions, but I wanted to take a moment to clear up any misconceptions.
1. The alliance is called Dark Mail, but individual email services will have their own names. For instance, when it launches ours will be called “Silent Mail”. Others maybe called FreedomMail, XYZmail or Lavamail. It is up to the provider to call it whatever they want, but it will have the new end-to-end architecture engine running under the hood so to speak.
2. We have had heard a few comments about the name “Dark Mail” being sinister or somehow seedy. Dark Mail is meant to imply that your email is dark, or unseen to others. That it is secure, private and that your written words are not viewed by some data-mining tech firm or a surveillance-hungry government agency. We are proud of the name, we stand behind it and for goodness sake – it’s just the name of our technical alliance.
3. When we have enough providers in the alliance, we will launch it worldwide. Some will choose to implement the protocol with an SMTP gateway for the ability to send and receive “open” emails. Some will not and only choose to offer peer-to-peer email service. It’s up to the provider who implements it.
The “engine” behind this new architecture is our SCIMP version 2.0. Developed by our team of Vincent Moscaritolo, Jon Callas, Phil Zimmermann and others at Silent Circle. Once Ladar’s team and ours decide that our working prototype has all the “I’s dotted and T’s crossed” – we will put it out open source and get the worldwide community to help review, make suggestions and tear it apart limb by limb to ensure we covered all of the bases. Silent Circle’s CTO and Co-Founder, Jon Callas will be releasing a white paper shortly that describes and highlights our protocol.
We have had an overwhelming response from email providers all over the world, including such far away places as Ghana, Iceland, Russia and the South Pacific Islands. We are going to do all we can to keep everyone informed, communicate and work side by side with these early-adopter providers. Our hope is that when most of us have it ready to go, we launch as an entire group so people around the world will have immediate options of providers from day 1. Not a small undertaking and one that will take some time, but one that will happen.
We will strive to keep everyone informed monthly with any Alliance updates or other news and offers from its members, as well as working with those providers to get early assistance as we build it out, validate and tweak the various pieces to implement. We believe very strongly that the Dark Mail Alliance will be successful if within 3 years we have 50% of the world’s emails being sent with this new architecture.
Lastly, Phil, Jon, Vincent, Ladar, myself and our entire companies would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support we have received in offering to assist us with this quest.