ChiaraMail (pronounced Kee-ara Mail) has developed a mail client that was developed to give you more control over your email. It is described as: a mail client that implements Envelope-Content Splitting, a technology that provides several significant advantages over traditional mail protocols, including increased privacy of your mail in transit, the ability to send attachments of unlimited size, protection against e-mail address spoofing, enabling users to change their e-mail at any time after they've sent it, as well as other benefits.
I had a chance to interview Robert Uomini the developer of ChiaraMail and we had a chance to discuss the benefits of ChiaraMail. Here are the answers to my questions:
A.NY Android – From a techie perspective I can see the implications of this are great but how do you explain to the ordinary user the benefit of this application?
Robert Uomini –I would explain the benefits of ECS technology as follows:
1. The ability to change one's e-mail after sending it.
2. Total privacy of your e-mail in transit. Not even mail servers can read your message, only the people it was sent to.
3. Protection against e-mail address "spoofing" (faking someone's e-mail address). Since ECS provides sender authentication, messages can be sent only if the sender knows the content server password of the purported e-mail address, third parties cannot pretend to be you (unless they have your password). This is not the case with standard e-mail, where no sender authentication is done.
4. Since mail content is never sent to the message recipients, space is saved in their Inboxes, even when sending full-length video attachments.
5. Mail throughput is much faster, since the transport system (SMTP server) doesn't have to carry the content along to the message destinations. Think of it as analogous to a highway: if it's filled with trucks, the traffic would move much more slowly than if it were filled with Ferraris.
The "applications" are really extensions (for Thunderbird and Outlook) and a true app, ECSMail, for Android, with an iOS app on the way.
The Android app, ECSMail for Android, is based on the popular open-source Android app, K-9 Mail, and implements ECS technology. What ends up in the recipients email box is just the e-mail header, plus a "canned" message for the benefit of mail clients that do not support ECS, because that's all the ECS client sends through the mail network. The actual content sits outside the mail network. This is great for promoting privacy, since mail intermediaries, such as the SMTP server, does not see the content. As for the ability of the sender to change his/her e-mail after sending it, I put a switch in the content server so that, when set, once an individual reads the email, the email is then "locked" and cannot be changed by the sender.
B.NY Android – How does this affect the legal nature of emails? If you can change emails after they are sent and the original time does not change does that not make emails less binding in courts of law?
Robert Uomini – Yes and no. If the sender changes an e-mail after it had been admitted as evidence in court, that would constitute tampering and is a criminal offense. If it's done beforehand, then it's less clear (the prosecution would need to show that the sender expected the e-mails to be subpoenaed, which is harder to do). Note that although the system administrator may disallow changes to an e-mail after it had first been read, one may also add a list of users who may override the restriction, such as upper management. For the public content server, in order for users to see more easily ECS technology in action, I have allowed e-mail editing at any time, even after the recipient had read the message.
There is also a logging feature, showing time-stamped content as it arrives or is requested by recipients. The logging feature may be turned off.
C.NY Android – Although the app is free are there additional costs? Content server maintenance etc?
Robert Uomini – No. Users have to register with the ChiaraMail content server in order to send and read ECS content. 10MB of content space is allotted to each sender. When users reach the 10MB quota, they will either have to opt-in for more space, which is sold as a monthly subscription, or they may reduce their existing space by editing their message content to make it smaller.
D.NY Android – Why 10MB?
Robert Uomini – We'd love to provide each of our users with, say, 5 GB of disk space, but with many users, our disk costs could spiral out of control; in other words, our success could be the cause of our downfall. Until the time ChiaraMail receives outside funding, user space allocations will remain at 10 MB.
E.NY Android – How does ECSMail prevent identity theft? What security protocols are in place?
Robert Uomini – I should mention that AES encryption doesn't have much, if anything, to do with identity theft, only the safety of user data while residing on the ChiaraMail content server. Identity theft is prevented by the sender authentication scheme used by the content server. Specifically, nobody can send an ECS mail message without knowing the sender's content server password.
F.NY Android – How do you see this developing?
Robert Uomini – We currently have approximately 900 registered individual users, but our focus will be on developing enterprise accounts.
G.NY Android – I watched the video on Youtube with the Mozilla client: Thunderbird. This seems prime for tablet users, has this also been designed for cell phone users?
Robert Uomini - Although Mozilla Thunderbird only runs on desktop- and laptop systems, we do have a mobile client, ECSMail for Android, with an iOS version in development. ECSMail currently runs on Android tablets as well as smartphones.
H.NY Android – What does the interface look like?
Robert Uomini – You can find snapshots for the Thunderbird add-on at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/dynamic-mail-content/?src=search and for ECSMail at http://www.ChiaraMail.com/ecsmail_help.html. We don't currently have any screenshots for the Outlook add-in, but the UI is similar to that of Thunderbird, although consistent with the Outlook layout and look-and-feel.
My conclusion is that ECSMail may be too advanced for the normal user. However, for rooted or enterprise users this may be a great way to have more control on your emails. If interested in downloading ECSMail please click here.