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Facebook Enables PGP Option on Notification Emails

Facebook has enabled PGP encryption as an option for notification emails, adding another layer of security for users. So, what companies will follow?

We are in a new digital age where little is secret or private anymore. After Edward Snowden’s revelations, Americans and the rest of the world became abundantly aware that we were being watched. Since then, some individuals have taken action, using Tor to hide their browsing habits from prying eyes and looking into ways to conduct their affairs away from the data-collection beast.

The ACLU brought up an interesting point a while back, when it stated that the architects of this digital world are responsible for building the structures that protect users and deciding what kind of future is possible based on the security features they build. No pressure guys.

Facebook’s designers have apparently taken that idea to heart. After Snowden revealed that governments were snooping into the affairs of its citizens, Facebook turned on HTTPS by default, making communication between its users and Facebook’s servers more secure. It took another large step in October 2014, making Facebook available directly through Tor — developers even gave onion browser users their own special link to help aid in making user traffic safer and more anonymous.

Today, Facebook has added yet another layer of security to its site: end-to-end encrypted notification emails.

The company wrote in a press release:

“To enhance the privacy of this email content, today we are gradually rolling out an experimental new feature that enables people to add OpenPGP public keys to their profile; these keys can be used to ‘end-to-end’ encrypt notification emails sent from Facebook to your preferred email accounts.”

Users will be able to add a public key under the contact and basic info section of their profile, so when they receive updates on likes, birthday reminders, or any other notifications, the message will no longer be in plain text — accessible to anyone who can access their network, email provider, or email account. Instead, anyone who tries to read your messages will be met with a string of garbled numbers and letters that’s undecipherable without a key.

While only a few users will take advantage of this new feature, it helps expose a larger audience to PGP and the world of email encryption to a mainstream audience. But the bigger hope is that this show of implementing encryption into the architecture of a site by such a prominent brand will lead others to follow.

However, allow Andrew Keen, an Internet entrepreneur who founded, to bring us back down to earth. While Facebook is making these security strides, its business is still based on data mining, a creepy, unsettling practice in Keen’s eyes.

Read more at Facebook.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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