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Joshua Tauberer edited this page May 15, 2014 · 2 revisions

The Rationale

Mass electronic surveillance by governments that have been revealed over the last year has spurred a new movement to re-decentralize the web. Centralization of services has created efficiencies at the expense of freedom. One can get a “free” email account or a “free” social media account, but what the user gives up is his or her privacy, both explicitly as a term of service and implicitly as the service providers comply with classified government intelligence programs. Users put their sensitive communications at risk (think journalists, lawyers, investors, and innovators) also give up control of their Internet experience and the opportunity to innovate that experience.

Netizens are looking for ways to rely less on the large, centralized service providers such as Google and Yahoo and more on smaller providers or even themselves. Users of Mail-in-a-Box might be journalists, lawyers, and other individuals at risk for government surveillance, individuals communicating sensitive information who want to be protected from criminal activity, and anyone who prefers to take control over their experience on the Internet.

SMTP, the protocol of email, is an open protocol that is decentralized in principle but highly centralized in practice. While SMTP itself is a simple protocol, the demands of modern life have lead to the development of a constellation of other protocols in the last 15 years that are now required to have one’s outgoing mail delivered securely and reliably, and one’s incoming mail clean and secure. These protocols include SPF, DKIM, digital signatures, public key exchanges, TLS, DNSSEC, reputation management, spam and abuse reporting, spam filtering, and graylisting, to name a few.

Implementing all of the modern protocols that surround SMTP is difficult, and thus costly. As a result, most individuals trade their independence for access to a “free” email service, meaning one of the few, centralized services.

Mail-in-a-Box helps individuals take back control of their email by defining a one-click, easy-to-deploy SMTP+everything else server. It is a mail server in a box aimed to be deployed securely into any cloud infrastructure. It provides no user interface to send or check one’s mail but implements all of the underlying protocols that other applications (mail clients), such as Google K-9 for mobile devices, Mailpile, and Mozilla Thunderbird, can interoperate with.

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