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Silent Circle confirms end of secure email service

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Silent Circle has announced that it is to close down its secure email service.

The secure voice and communication service, headed by PGP founder Phil Zimmermann, announced in a blog post that it was not able to offer the same security for email as it was for phone, video and text services, and has decided to shut down Silent Mail.

Jon Callas, Silent Circle co-founder and CTO of said that the voice communications were designed to be completely end-to-end secure with all cryptography done on the clients and our exposure to your data to be nil.

“The reasons are obvious — the less of your information we have, the better it is for you and for us,” he said.

“Silent Mail has thus always been something of a quandary for us. Email that uses standard internet protocols cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communications has. There are far too many leaks of information and metadata intrinsically in the email protocols themselves. Email as we know it with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP cannot be secure.”

Callas said that after considerations, and despite customer demand for Silent Mail, it has closed the service. He said that no subpoenas, warrants, security letters or government communication had been received, and “this is why we are acting now”.

He said: “We are still working on innovative ways to do truly secure communications. Silent Mail was a good idea at the time, and that time is past. We apologise for any inconvenience, and hope you understand that if we dithered, it could be more inconvenient.”

Yesterday, Lavabit owner and operator Ladar Levison confirmed that its email service was being suspended after ties with NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden forced his hand in the choice of becoming “complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit”. Last week Kaspersky began winding down its own hosted email service.

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