With the shutdown of Lavabit and Silent Mail, the search for a usable and secure web-mail solution is obviously on, and the core Mailpile team consisting of developer Bjarni Rúnar Einarsson (also a member of the Icelandic Pirate Party), developer Smári McCarthy (founding member of the same party and information activist), and interface designer Brennan Novak have now enough funds to improve on an already existing prototype to create a solution that will satisfy most privacy-minded users.
"Mailpile is free software, a web-mail program that you run on your own computer, so your data stays under your control. Because it is free software (a.k.a. open source), you can look under the hood and see how it works, or even modify it to make it better suit your particular needs. Mailpile is designed for speed and vast amounts of e-mail, it is flexible and themeable and has support for strong encryption built in from the very start," they explained on the Indiegogo project page.
The alpha version of the open source web-mail app that can run either on a personal computer or in the cloud is expected to be delivered as early as January 2014. It is expected to feature an easy-to-use interface, a fast and scalable search engine, sensible default preferences, user-friendly support for both OpenPGP and S/MIME encryption and signatures, and a platform developers can customize and build upon.
The users will be able to store their emails on their devices, encrypt it and share or restrict access, as well as encrypt the local settings and search index.
The group hopes that the early adopters will be able to bring other users into the fold. After all, what good is using a secure e-mail client, server and encryption if the persons you exchange emails with fail to protect their end?
Of course, PGP cannot mask the fact that you were in contact with a specific person in a given moment, but it can protect the contents of your communications.
Also, if the service grows big enough, there is no guarantee that the government won't come knocking and demand access, but given that the service is based in Iceland, the chances are currently much slimmer than if it was based in one of the Five Eyes countries.