Dark Mail Alliance, co-founded by Lavabit and Silent Circle, aims to create an open source email protocol and architecture that has end-to-end encryption built-in.
Lavabit LLC is the Texas, US-based company that used to provide secure email services, but was voluntarily shutdown because the owner and operator, Ladar Levison, did not want to hand over private SSL key used to ensure his clients email security to US authorities. It was the email service used by Edward Snowden, the ex-NSA contractor who exposed details about the global and illegal surveillance activities of the NSA.
Silent Circle, headquartered in National Harbor, MD USA, provides a range of secure communication services, but also shut down its secure, end-user email service for the same reason that Lavabit did.
With the formation of Dark Mail Alliance, both outfits aim to:
To bring the world our unique end-to-end encrypted protocol and architecture that is the ‘next-generation’ of private and secure email. As founding partners of The Dark Mail Alliance, both Silent Circle and Lavabit will work to bring other members into the alliance, assist them in implementing the new protocol and jointly work to proliferate the worlds first end-to-end encrypted ‘Email 3.0′ throughout the world’s email providers. Our goal is to open source the protocol and architecture and help others implement this new technology to address privacy concerns against surveillance and back door threats of any kind.
Work is currently underway, with a working implementation set to be released sometime in 2014. I am rooting for them.