Position of the Fédération Française des Télécoms on e-mail services’ security
Several operators have already run successful technical tests as part of a current pilot program. Furthermore, they presented to the relevant authorities the architecture and technical solutions for encrypting e-mail exchanges between the MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) servers, and a report on how to implement encrypted exchanges with MTAs on existing user terminals. The technical solution for MTA exchanges is based on the SMTP protocol StartTLS method.
The operators' work on this issue comes in response to the challenge of securing exchanges between different e-mail services and the need for total interoperability, which is a key concern for telecoms operators. They aim to implement protective measures on the links between their e-mail services.
Any claims that e-mail services can be secured in isolation are both pointless and misleading when the sender and recipient use different e-mail services.
The idea that encryption makes large-scale interceptions of e-mails harder for foreign security agencies is equally illusory unless, as the French Prime Minister stated in his address to the ANSSI on 20 February 2014, the e-mails are encrypted and handled by service providers and infrastructures located within the country. The French operators involved in the initiative are committed to meeting those conditions. Their work should be completed this fall.