Ana Viseu on Sun, 10 Oct 1999 04:35:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 'Self-destruct' e-mail offers virtual privacy

I found this article to be interesting for it affects the nature and uses
of communication via email. So, here it goes. I am also sending some other
URLs related to this software.


By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

'Self-destruct' e-mail offers virtual privacy

Conventional Internet wisdom says e-mail is forever, copied and stored on
the sender's and recipient's PCs and any number of computers it passed
through on the way.

That might change soon. Disappearing Inc., a small start-up firm in San
Francisco, has devised e-mail that self-destructs, Mission: Impossible style.

"The idea that you can send a message and have it evaporate downstream gets
at a lot of the problems with e-mail," says Kerry Stackpole of the
Electronic Messaging Association, a trade group. "I can't imagine people
wouldn't use it."

Currently, even if both sender and recipient delete a message, copies
remain on computers they can't get to. As much as 85% of the evidence in
the Iran-contra hearings came from restored e-mail. And Microsoft has been
burned by internal messages introduced as evidence in its antitrust case.

"Backed-up e-mail has been a boon to us," says Joan Feldman of e-mail
recovery firm Computer Forensics. 

Disappearing Inc.'s system, due early next year, offers a way to "shred"
e-mail and turn it into "the transient communication tool people think it
is," CEO Maclen Marvit says.

Say Alice is sending a message to Bob. When she hits the send key, a small
add-on filter to her e-mail program goes out across the Net and notifies
the Disappearing Inc. site.

The site assigns her message an identifying number and gives her a software
"key" with which to scramble it. When Bob opens the message,  the same key
from Disappearing Inc. unscrambles it.

What makes that e-mail temporary: Alice can say she wants the key to exist
for as short as a few seconds or decades. When time is up, the key is
deleted from Disappearing Inc. 

It's legal, co-founder Dave Marvit says. "If the feds are knocking on your
door and you start shredding, that's destruction of evidence. But it's
accepted business practice to regularly destroy documents."

Says Feldman, "Disappearing Inc. is going to be a great boon to companies
trying to reduce their (legal) exposure."


'Self-destruct' E-Mail Offers Virtual Privacy

'Self-destructing' E-mail Developed (AP)
[Registration required.]

Disappearing Inc. Keeps E-Mail Messages Private


Keep your eye on the road. Technology is accelerating.

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