Now, many of us probably think, well, one email, there’s nothing in there, right? But if you consider a year’s worth of emails, or maybe even a lifetime of email, collectively, this tells a lot. It tells where we have been, who we have met, and in many ways, even what we’re thinking about. And the more scary part about this is our data now lasts forever, so your data can and will outlive you. What has happened is that we’ve largely lost control over our data and also our privacy.

Let’s take a look at one of the most widely used forms of communication in the world today: email. Before the invention of email, we largely communicated using letters, and the process was quite simple. You would first start by writing your message on a piece of paper, then you would place it into a sealed envelope, and from there, you would go ahead and send it after you put a stamp and address on it. Unfortunately, today, when we actually send an email, we’re not sending a letter. What you are sending, in many ways, is actually a postcard, and it’s a postcard in the sense that everybody that sees it from the time it leaves your computer to when it gets to the recipient can actually read the entire contents.

So, the solution to this has been known for some time, and there’s many attempts to do it. The most basic solution is to use encryption, and the idea is quite simple. First, you encrypt the connection between your computer and the email server. Then, you also encrypt the data as it sits on the server itself. But there’s a problem with this, and that is, the email servers also hold the encryption keys, so now you have a really big lock with a key placed right next to it. But not only that, any government could lawfully ask for and get the key to your data, and this is all without you being aware of it.