Google releases beta OpenPGP code

David Shaw dshaw at
Wed Jun 4 17:56:54 CEST 2014

On Jun 4, 2014, at 4:32 AM, Werner Koch <wk at> wrote:

> On Wed,  4 Jun 2014 04:43, dshaw at said:
>> I haven't looked at the fine details yet, but on the surface it seems
>> like they're aiming at Gmail (mainly, but not solely).
> Interesting.  This is in contrast to a recent online article in the
> German c't magazine [1] where the author claims that Google would
> cannibalize their own business model if they offer end-to-end
> encryption.  Apple on the other hand can afford the luxury of encrypted
> chats because their revenue stream is not alone based on advertising.
> Maybe Google now fears that users move away from Gmail and to mitigate
> that they provide end-to-end so that they still have access to their
> user's traffic pattern.

If we look at it cynically, I think this is a win-win for Google.  They get a lot of good press about "increasing user security" for nearly no cost to their business model.  This still requires manual steps to encrypt which pretty much rules it out for the overwhelming majority of users, and like you say, even for those relatively few users who start encrypting, Google still has access to traffic patterns.

I don't think they're being that cynical though.  The code is real, and presumably does what it is described to do.  It's not a complete solution (which for me would be automating it somehow), but it's a nice step.  And this is an 800 pound gorilla throwing some more weight behind encryption in general and OpenPGP in particular.  I'm quite pleased to see this.


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