Is Gmail’s new “confidential mode” really confidential?

Sent a little video on Gmail’s new “confidential mode” (hint: not “confidential” and, no, Google hasn’t changed its business model) to Al Jazeera English for today’s Newsgrid programme. Segment airs in the 2nd half of this hour.

You can watch Newsgrid live from

@aral this is the first I hear about the confidential mode. Reading more and.. ugh. I can see I will have to deal with endless questions from people I work with about it.

My work just got this much more difficult, because Google decided to dilute the term "confidential" and break how e-mail works.

Thanks, Google.

@valerauko @rysiek maybe this will be the impetus to change the paradigm from SMTP to something inherently more secure.

@fullywoolly @valerauko problem is, this will also be the impetus to change the paradigm from SMTP to something inherently more proprietary.

@rysiek @valerauko sure Gmail has market share but that doesn't mean we have to use it.

@fullywoolly @valerauko if something's supposed to be a replacement for SMTP, and if GMail will implement it, we *will* have to use it. Sadly.

@rysiek wasn't imap intended to be such a replacement ages ago

@rysiek They are huge, but that doesn't mean they are the end all be all. It's just like all the fragmentation with messaging apps. If you refuse to use the service, the people will have to find another way to contact you. Honestly, I'd gladly not send messages to google because it weakens their position for data collection.

@fullywoolly well, then stop sending messages to Google now. Why wait for the SMTP-replacement, or whatever? If it's a good idea, why not do it *today*?

@rysiek precisely because there isn't an option that fills the gap of email

@webmind @rysiek @aral I assume this was requested by corporate users a lot. Mail encryption appliances have been using that model for ages (when the system doesn't have a public key for the recipient, it just sends a link to a copy of the mail in the appliance web UI).

Why? Because this makes it possible to tick off the "use encrypted mail" compliance checkbox without actually encrypting mail.


"Google," and, "confidential," in the same sentence? Ay yi yi...

Is it really confidential?
Oh, c'mon, man -- this IS Google we're talking about, here.

@flugennock ;) (That’s the video I sent in to Al Jazeera and it was aired today as part of their segment on the topic.) :)

@aral @flugennock

Unless someone at Google has a major epiphany they're not going to be supporting encrypted email. Not as the default anyway. They could offer it as an option buried somewhere in the settings, which almost nobody would ever turn on or as a special option for certain paying business users.

The sad part is that if Gmail had integrated gpg early on we might now be living in a world of ubiquitous email encryption. I think that boat has sailed.

@aral Short, clear and straight to the point video :)

(wouldn't it be better to upload it on some peertube instance, instead of 😇 )

@aral are you trusting the folks at basecamp with your data?

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