After a Google Transparency Report revealed which email services and websites offer encryption, ISP (Internet Service Provider) and cable giant Comcast decided that it will reportedly change its tune in this area, and automatically encrypt its customers’ messages, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Google report publicly lists popular sites and services, along with a percentage of messages that are encrypted when sending and receiving messages while using them. In essence, the report publicly shames those services that don’t offer encryption, while praising the ones that do. Comcast was one of the worst offenders on the list, with Google’s findings indicating that less than 1 percent of emails received by and sent from Comcast email addresses getting the encryption treatment.
However, Comcast is reportedly working hard to amend that practice. Email encryption will be available to Comcast email account holders “within a matter of weeks,” Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said. Douglas also noted that the firm is “very aggressive about this.”
“This domain encrypts a very small fraction of emails in transit from Gmail, or none at all,” Google’s report on Comcast’s encryption practices states. It’s important to note that encryption only works when the service you’re using, and the service you’re sending the message to/from, both offer it. Google reportedly began encryption Gmail users’ emails back in 2010.
So why is Comcast taking action on this now? It appears that Google’s move to shine a big light on which companies do and don’t offer encryption was a significant motivating factor. After former NSA analyst Eric Snowden leaked documents which indicate that the U.S. government engages in widespread spying operations on both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. governments, multiple companies have moved to protect their customers’ data from prying eyes. In a move likely centered around protecting its bottom line, Comcast is the newest company to get on that page.