Gmail’s new design will include a ‘Confidential Mode’

Gmail Confidential Mode

Gmail on the web is getting a big update in the coming weeks with a new design and features, but Google is also introducing a new Confidential Mode. The Verge revealed the new design earlier this week, alongside features like quick reply to emails, the ability to snooze emails until later, and a new sidebar to place calendar appointments side by side with messages. We’ve now learned Google will also introduce “Confidential Mode,” which lets Gmail users stop recipients from forwarding certain emails, or restricts the ability to copy, download, or print them.

Google will also let Gmail users require a passcode to open emails, which will be generated via SMS, or set an expiration date on sent emails. The features are very similar to some found in Microsoft’s full Outlook application, and Microsoft is also adding the ability to restrict emails on its Outlook.com service. These features will largely appeal to businesses that want more control over how emails are used by recipients, but they won’t stop people from taking a screenshot or a photo of an email.

Google has confirmed its Gmail update is coming soon, and a message to an early access program revealed that it should be available in the coming weeks. Google’s I/O developer conference starts on May 8th this year, and it’s likely that this new Gmail design will be part of the show, alongside some updates to other Google web services.

Comments

built in PGP next please

Or S/MIME. That would be ideal.

i’m not really sure theres a good way of doing PGP/GPG without doing it outside of the gmail environment. otherwise how do you guarantee that google doesn’t copy the keys that you generate inside of gmail?

Then they couldn’t scan your email for marketing keywords…

That’s apparently been ceased anyway

Oh, that’s good to hear.

They don’t scan emails for that anymore.

These features sound like they can only possibly work if both sender and recipient are using Gmail, and specifically their web interface, and not through IMAP.

Yes, though typically (e.g. in Microsoft’s implementation of similar email rules) any message sent outside of the controlled domain will not include the actual subject/body, just a link back to a service that can render the message (or deny rendering it if needed), so it meets the security requirements of the organization. IMAP representation of the messages would probably do the same thing. I think this is what we can expect of Gmail since they’re doing this to compete with Exchange/Office 365.

I think the most common use case for this would be internal emails within an organization using Gmail.

Welcome to the beginning of email fragmentation.

The features sound great, but without standards to make this interoperable between services, it sounds like a big push to Gmail lock-in.

Embrace, extend, extinguish, anyone?

Isn’t Gmail just a mail client like the offerings of Outlook, Yahoo, etc.? Each client has its own feature set. There should be no expectation that Google’s Gmail features would transfer over to other clients.

Also email is already dying as people are slowly going for chat apps instead so who cares?

Nobody uses chat apps to communicate with customers or vendors; email is still king here. Email is still incredibly relevant and strong

Lots of companies are communicating with customers outside of email.

Every single email service offers features on their own first party site that doesn’t extend everywhere else, not sure why you see it as such a negative when it’s Gmail though?

But I can just whip out my phone and take a pic of the screen; this will never work.

Like all the other encryption methods. But it’s still better than nothing

I just see the point of disabling copying email text or printing of emails. I understand why encryption is useful but these measures seem kinda pointless.

When you talk to Google again, can you ask them when will they allow the disabling of conservational view on Gmail app? Thanks.

Finally a Gmail GUI update after years …

Gmail for general daily use.

Tutanota mail for security/privacy

Doubt it will stop someone from using SNIP on windows to make a copy of the e-mail

This needs to be cross-platform for it to work though.

Basically a try at DRM for email and incredibly gross. Doesn’t fully work because if the recipient’s machines, or eyeballs for that matter, receive the message, the recipient can ultimately do what they want with it.

(A less ridiculous version of this is "request-xyz" headers with no claims it’s enforced, or attempts to enforce it. Like, "request deletion after" that GMail honors on the receiving side unless the user overrides it, and things like "request no forwarding", "request no copying", etc. that make GMail asks the user to confirm if they want to do that. Maybe folks in managed (work) environments really would get DRM-like experience for internal email so flagged (if it’s work email, it’s work’s call to make it easier or harder to send out certain info), and everyone else could choose to automatically ignore all requests, like with read receipts.)

There must be a number of folks inside Google that hated this.

The business goal of this is to add "features" that only work between GMail users; they want to promote lock-in. If the goal were actually confidentiality they could offer confidential mail that’s only decrypted by the client, or offer messaging with the Signal protocol like WhatsApp did.

Stuff like this makes me want there to be more competition among email clients—more fragmentation to keep any one company from being able to pull a stunt like this. Google finally decided it would be good for business to break fundamental promises of email as a common platform, and, sadly, they’re certainly in a position to at least damage it.

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