Basically Email service that is ran over a network, so it's not owned by any one entity. Everyone can use it and send email to someone else.

All messages travel through a web of interconnected users.

All messages are encrypted and can only be opened by the user it's meant for.

There can be storage boxes which will just preserve the encrypted messages in the network.

It will ensure privacy of journalists, every day users, and so on.

My question: if such system can be created why there isn't one.

No system is save if a there is warrant less full permission to force any company to yield all data.

closed as too broad by Anders, forest, Xander, schroeder Dec 18 '18 at 18:45

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    There are many de-centralized chat clients used for this very purpose. Most people believe that email is a dead communication tool and chat is superior. – schroeder Jul 14 '15 at 22:13
  • emails can be read later, chat you have to be connected. – Muhammad Umer Jul 14 '15 at 22:15
  • chat msgs are also stored on your machine - please look at the existing de-centralized, encrypted chat clients to see if it meets your expectations. – schroeder Jul 14 '15 at 22:15
  • then it's same as email in a way. However, it is impractical for all users to have one machine running all the time. It'd be better if there were storage vaults for community's use where all data would save for at least 30 days. – Muhammad Umer Jul 14 '15 at 22:17
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    @MuhammadUmer "PGP is really hard to use" – Neil McGuigan Jul 15 '15 at 0:10

There already is a system which could do what you propose: Just use standard SMTP via TOR. Each communication partner would run their own mailserver as a hidden service on TOR. You can then write emails to conveniently named email addresses like bob@3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion.

But that won't ever become meainstream. Why?

The reason is that a communication medium can only replace another when it is more convenient to use. When you give users the choice between security and convenience, the majority will always choose convenience.

So when you want to replace email (please do, it's such a horribly broken protocol on so many levels), you don't just need to create a system which is better from a security perspective, but also better from a usability perspective. Unfortunately, in most cases security and convenience are mutually exclusive.

Some features of email which might be difficult (I don't claim impossible, though) with the system you propose could be:

  • Easy to set up and maintain for people with zero IT skills
  • Require no acquisition of new hardware
  • Guarantee that a message either gets delivered or that the sender receives a useful error message when it can't be delivered.
  • Checking for new messages within seconds after connecting to the network
  • Delivery of new messages within seconds when both users are already connected to the network
  • Downloading large attachments with your full bandwidth
  • Human-readable and memorable addresses (like bob@example.com, not 5ff860bf1190596c7188ab851db691f0f3169c453936e9e1eba2f9a47f7a0018)
  • The ability to send messages from anyone to anyone without prior key exchange
  • Access your existing identity on a new device using only information you can easily memorize
  • Backward compatibility with standard Email to ease the transition

When your system can not do all of these, it will have a hard time replacing email. And your system doesn't just need to be just as good as email but actually better, so you better come up with one or more features which improve usability and which standard email can not do.

  • I just want to replace email with email over mandatory TLS. Let's Encrypt removed the last barrier to mandatory TLS so we can do it. – Joshua Jan 13 '16 at 17:20
  • @Joshua The technology to encrypt mails in transit already exists and is widely used (starttls). The unsolved problem is that the mails are in plantext on the mailservers. To solve this, true end-to-end encryption is needed, which requires an end-user key management architecture. Let's encrypt can't solve that problem because it won't give you a TLS certificate for a private internet connection. And even when that's what you would suggest: there already is a solution for that. It's called PGP and nobody uses it. – Philipp Jan 13 '16 at 20:42

You may be interested in Bitmessage.

From the Bitmessage wiki: "Bitmessage is a P2P communications protocol used to send encrypted messages to another person or to many subscribers. It is decentralized and trustless, meaning that you need-not inherently trust any entities like root certificate authorities. It uses strong authentication which means that the sender of a message cannot be spoofed, and it aims to hide 'non-content' data, like the sender and receiver of messages, from passive eavesdroppers"


My question: if such system can be created why there isn't one.

Resource limitations is why.

I'd quit my job and start writing the necessary tools to piggyback encrypted mail on the BitCoin (or other) blockchain tomorrow, if I could ensure I still have somewhere to live, something to eat, and everything else my day-job pays for. The ironic phrase "Simple Matter Of Programming" is part of the hacker lexicon for a reason.

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    Hackers have accomplished far greater projects in their spare-time. Also, there is a market for such technology which might attract corporate sponsors. – Philipp Jul 15 '15 at 10:52

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