Google has thrown itself into moves to reclaim the internet from spying eyes, aligned itself with the Reset the Net awareness campaign, and attempted to ease email encryption.
The firm announced support for the Fight for the Future Reset the Net campaign at the same time that it released the source code for End-to-End, a Google Chrome extension that could encrypt comms to and from its servers using OpenPGP.
The firm hopes that the code will be used to bridge the gap between the encryption that it rolls onto emails from Gmail and a lack of encryption at the recipient end.
"Gmail has always supported encryption in transit by using Transport Layer Security, and will automatically encrypt your incoming and outgoing emails if it can," Brandon Long, tech lead for the Gmail Delivery Team wrote.
"The important thing is that both sides of an email exchange need to support encryption for it to work; Gmail can't do it alone.
"Our data shows that approximately 40 to 50 percent of emails sent between Gmail and other email providers aren't encrypted. Many providers have turned on encryption, and others have said they're going to, which is great news. As they do, more and more emails will be shielded from snooping."
To boost this effort its End-to-End technology will be available soon, and Google expects it to have an immediate effect on communications as Stephan Somogyi, product manager for Security and Privacy, explained.
"Once we feel that the extension is ready for primetime, we'll make it available in the Chrome Web Store, and anyone will be able to use it to send and receive end-to-end encrypted emails through their existing web-based email provider," he said.
"We recognise that this sort of encryption will probably only be used for very sensitive messages or by those who need added protection. But we hope that the End-to-End extension will make it quicker and easier for people to get that extra layer of security should they need it."
End-to-End code is available, but Google has asked that no one packages it and releases it to the web. "We're releasing this code to enable community review; it is not yet ready for general use," it added.
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