Our increased dependency on centralised solutions – even in systems that are created to be decentralised – is becoming alarming.
What is currently happening to me is that for some reason GMail stopped accepting mail from my private e-mail address, claiming I am a likely spammer. In case you wondered: I am not sending our spam, would be very surprised if I had a virus on my regularly updated GNU/Linux laptop, and even more so if my e-mail provider’s server was abused.
When everyone you know with a GMail e-mail account suddenly sends you replies in the following manner, you realise just how depending on an outside service provider you are in your communication, even if you are not their client:
<firstname.lastname@example.org>: host gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com[2a00:1450:4013:c01::1b] said: 550-5.7.1 [2a02:d68:500::122 12] Our system has detected that this message 550-5.7.1 is likely unsolicited mail. To reduce the amount of spam sent to 550-5.7.1 Gmail, this message has been blocked. Please visit 550-5.7.1 http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=188131 for 550 5.7.1 more information. u13si15106334wiv.49 - gsmtp (in reply to end of DATA command)
The problem of not being their client is even worse, as then you do not have a big enough leverage, and often not even an easy way to contact them with such issues.
On a not too unrelated note, e-mail is a complex beast2 and while deprecating it would take an immense amount of work as well as quite a long time, it is interesting to see new technology popping up to create a new and better Internet as well as old technology like GnuPG improving to protect us in the digital world.
While this rant was triggered by my trouble GMail, do note that this it is not just Google out there that we have to be wary of – in other areas of our communication, we need to aim for decentralisation as well. SecuShare3 provides a nice comparison of current and planned technology.
hook out → catching up with e-mail backlogs :P
Update: It seems that the whole mail server got blocked by GMail. The issue is now finally solved by migrating the whole mail server and with that creating new SSL/TLS certificates.
As two examples, let us name Facebook and Microsoft. On the server-side Facebook’s recent withdrawal from offering e-mail service, was anticipated by some IETF members, as Facebook has not attended any e-mail related conferences and workshops, where apparently you get to fully understand the interaction. On the client-side Microsoft’s Outlook is already infamous for ignoring major parts of the e-mail standard (e.g. quotation marks, attachments, …). ↩