Why a free, reliable, 100% Australian email service is crucial
You have to be a rare exception if at any point in recent years you haven’t been nudged by some organization to go online and switch to electronic bills/statements/notices/etc. MyGov, ATO, AusPost, Medicare, Centrelink, banks, local councils, insurers, electricity suppliers, phone companies, utility services — all want you to create online accounts. And while reducing paper curculation may look like an eco-friendly idea, there is tricky bit in this process: to create an account or do anything online with any of these institutions you must have an email address.
The problem is that there is no free, secure, reliable, 100% Australia-hosted and Australian-operated email service that respects user privacy and not tied to any Internet provider. This means Australians are forced by Australin companies and Australian government to use services like Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail or Yahoo, and essentially hand their private communications over to foreign companies that have no responsibilities under Australian law. Considering that documents like utility bills or bank statement can be used to confirm (or forge) identity of any Australian, the risks are very serious.
Besides safety implications, there are serious privacy concerns. Foreign services don’t care about Australian privacy laws and instead comply with mass surveillance directives of their governments. In addition to foreign intelligence agencies, privacy can be violated by the email service providers themselves.
For example, Gmail is infamous for suddenly demanding the user’s mobile phone number for “verification” purposes. Considering that, unlike New Zealand or UK, it is impossible to legally obtain Australian mobile phone number without a photo ID, Google is extorting a highly-personal piece of information. Your phone can be used to track most aspects of your private life: your communications, contacts, daily movements... For years, Gmail operated without having mobile phone verifications, now they suddenly need it. What's next? Passport scan? Bank account number? Fingerprints?
Email is a convenient communication option we all became accustomed to, but until there is an email service that is 100% hosted in Australia, is free, accessible, secure, and doesn’t demand excessive volumes of personal data from its users, every request to switch to eAnythjng is yet another step away from safety and privacy.
Published 1 August 2017