Security pros announce Dark Mail Technical Alliance

January 2, 2015 // 12:37 p.m.

Tags: #cryptography #email #encryption #pgp #phil-zimmermann #privacy #security

Companies: #dark-mail-technical-alliance #nsa

A quartet of well-known security researchers have announced the formation of the Dark Mail Technical Alliance, designed to create an easier method for end-to-end encryption for email.

Founded by Phil Zimmermann, Jon Callas, Mike Janke and Ladar Levison - known for Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), Silent Circle, and Lavabit respectively - the Dark Mail Technical Alliance has announced as its mission no less than a secure and straightforward end-to-end encrypted email standard. 'Our mission: to bring the world our unique end-to-end encrypted protocol and architecture that is the 'next-generation' of private and secure email,' the group claimed in its founding statement. 'As founding partners of The Dark Mail Technical Alliance, both Silent Circle and Lavabit will work to bring other members into the alliance, assist them in implementing the new protocol and jointly work to proliferate the world's first end-to-end encrypted 'Email 3.0' throughout the world's email providers.'

The team claims to be driven more by a desire to improve security and privacy on the internet than by profit. 'Our goal is to open source the protocol and architecture,' the founders claimed, 'and help others implement this new technology to address privacy concerns against surveillance and back door threats of any kind.'

The group's initial specification release (PDF warning), dubbed the Dark Internet Mail Environment (DIME), details a novel message format which is claimed to include 'strict user-centric security requirements' and which 'strives to create a secure system that guarantees the secure delivery of email while minimize leakage of information along the delivery path.'

Amusingly, the standard is dedicated to the National Security Agency by Ladar Levison, following the closure of his encrypted email service Lavabit following action by US security agencies. 'For better or worse, good or evil, what follows would not have been created without you,' the dedication reads. 'Because sometimes upholding constitutional ideas just isn't enough; sometimes you have to uphold the actual Constitution. May god bless these United States of America. May she once again become the land of the free and home of the brave.'

Thus far, the Dark Mail Technical Alliance has yet to announce partner companies or commercial implementations of its proposed DIME standard.
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