Secure Alternatives to Gmail
|by Vincent Board|
File under: Fake Tech17 May 2014 6:22 EDT
Old habits die hard. I've been using Gmail for years now, but due to some of Google's dubious policies and the general lack of internet privacy in the US, I've been forced to find an alternative. Initially I thought it would be very hard if not impossible to transfer all my contacts and update my contact info around the web, but it actually turned out to be a pretty painless process. There is literally no excuse to continue using Gmail (other than laziness, complacency, or complicity). But it is a bit challenging to find good, secure email alternatives, so I thought I might share with you what I found when I went through the process. This list is by no means exhaustive.
First of all I should say that I have deliberately avoided all US-based email services, such as Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, and Microsoft's Hotmail/Outlook, etc., for reasons which should be obvious. It's not even clear that these companies offer a better webmail experience than Gmail (which is very feature-rich),so I didn't consider them to be real alternatives.
The problem is that GMX actually offers two free email services: one for English-speakers (insecure),and one for German-speakers (secure). As I learned after creating my account, the mail servers for English-speakers are based in Lenexa, Kansas, which makes them worthless to me. However, if you understand basic German, you can open a free account at gmx.de or gmx.at (Austria). Each site uses mail servers in the local country, and Austria has slightly better privacy laws than Germany (or so I've heard).
Pros: Feature-rich, solid webmail service
The webmail interface (and the site in general) is very ugly and a somewhat confusing/unintuitive to use. The whole thing looks like it was built 10 years ago and hasn't been updated since. But if you don't use webmail (i.e. you use mail client software, as I do),everything is fine. In general it's a solid (though expensive) service.
Pros: Secure, Swiss-based email servers
As with Swissmail, you won't have access to all the features (like using POP or IMAP) unless you pay for your account. In general, the cost is slightly cheaper than Swissmail ($5/month for 1GB of space),but it might still be prohibitive for some. Personally I don't use webmail too often, so I basically have no choice but to pay. But I guess making a direct payment is better than indirectly paying for the service by having your personal information sold to advertisers.
Pros: Secure, Luxembourg-based email servers, free accounts
They also offer a range of nonfree accounts and optional PGP encryption. I've tried using PGP before, but it seemed far too cumbersome for everyday use, and also nearly worthless if you need to send mail to people who use non-PGP friendly services like Gmail. An account here might be good as a second email account, for "special occasions" or something, like when you need to send the launch codes to a foreign operative in Belarus, for instance.
Pros: Secure Non-US free accounts, PGP available
These are the best alternatives I could find, but I'm still open to suggestions if anyone has them. One conclusion I've come to is that you can't really get a secure email account without paying, as the profit model for these services excludes advertising. Google has addicted everyone to "free" services, and as I said at the start, old habits are hard to break.
SEND TO A FRIEND
Friend's email: Your email: