I don’t assume Big Tech is abusing my emails, but neither do I assume my personal communication is completely private. Email is inherently not private, unfortunately.
In this online world of tracking, fingerprinting, and targeted content (advertising), I am making moves to secure my online accounts, including email. Yes, I still make a conscious choice to trust my data in certain circumstances with organisations that could theoretically read personal data stored on their servers. But it’s about finding balance between owning my data; having privacy; trusting privacy laws and service provider policy; and being able to choose (portability) — whilst not getting paranoid about it all.
Maybe the biggest and most important aspect of all this is the ability to choose: to choose to move my data elsewhere to another provider, for example.
Email Address Ownership
So my current move is away from Gmail and the current paradigm of having my primary email address completely tied down to one email service provider, forever. I’m locked in and I cannot migrate the email address to another platform should I want to. This in itself is a good enough reason to take the plunge and switch to something I have more ownership over.
I’m trialling Tutanota right now, and so far it’s going quite well. I have set up an email address on my own domain name and begun updating various online accounts to this new address. The process of setting up all the DNS records was fairly quick and straightforward — the new email was working immediately on completing the instructions which were clearly laid out by within the Tutanota app. I have only a basic knowledge of DNS things, but I wouldn’t recommend someone attempt this with zero knowledge, although I guess one could find a guide online and figure it out. So anyway, for me it was a fairly easy and smooth process.
And what happens if I am unhappy with Tutanota? Well, that’s fine. I own my domain, I can move it to another provider if I choose. It’s portable in that sense. Theoretically, it could be completely changed to a new platform in a few minutes.
Tutanota seems pretty good, and I feel that for the most part the service replaces most of the essential functionality I enjoyed in Gmail, or at least they have stated it is on their development roadmap. The only thing I will definitely miss is IMAP/SMTP access, the lack of this is a feature rather than a limitation. It’s an encrypted service with access granted only through Tutanota apps, or website with third-party access off the table.
I did look at Protonmail and although it’s feature set seems more comprehensive, it’s probably not what I need and more expensive.