Lavabit and Silent Circle to create email impervious to snooping

The founders of recently shut down encrypted email service Lavabit and encrypted communications firm Silent Circle have announced the creation of the Dark Mail Alliance, a non-profit organization whose goal will be to develop a private end-to-end encrypted alternative to email as we know it.

“What we call “Email 3.0.’ is an urgent replacement for today’s decades old email protocols (“1.0′) and mail that is encrypted but still relies on vulnerable protocols leaking metadata (“2.0′),” they stated.

“As founding partners of The Dark Mail Alliance, both Silent Circle and Lavabit will work to bring other members into the alliance, assist them in implementing the new protocol and jointly work to proliferate the worlds first end-to-end encrypted ‘Email 3.0’ throughout the world’s email providers. Our goal is to open source the protocol and architecture and help others implement this new technology to address privacy concerns against surveillance and back door threats of any kind.”

The formation of the alliance was announced on Wednesday at the Inbox Love conference in Mountain View, California, by Silent Circle’s John Callas and Lavabit’s Ladar Levison.

They shared some small details about this new email: the open source transport protocol used will be based on Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP), DarkMail will be available as an add-on to everyone, and will be available in mid-2014.

They pointed out their aim is to create a completely secure solution with options like end-to-end encryption and forward secrecy, but that will also be easy to use and, if needed, will allow for security to be “toned down.”

To that point, Levison said they will be launching a Kickstarted campaign to cover the cost of DarkMail development. According to Ars Technica, the first 32 companies to donate $10,000 will get the result 60 days before the rest of the public, so that they can get a jumpstart on integrating it into their systems.

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