Gmail's upcoming visual overhaul will include a privacy-focused 'Confidential Mode' feature

By Polycount · 8 replies
Apr 13, 2018
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  1. Google's Gmail email platform hasn't seen much in the way of updates lately but that's changing soon. As we reported on Wednesday, the search giant is planning to roll out a visual overhaul of their popular email client in the coming weeks.

    Though the actual visual changes have already been revealed by The Verge, it turns out the overhaul is bringing a few additional, non-aesthetic changes of note. The first of these new features is "Confidential Mode," a tool that will allow users to prevent email recipients from forwarding, copying or downloading specific emails.

    To activate this feature, it looks like users will simply need to tap the small lock symbol located in the bottom portion of Gmail's "compose email" window.

    Upon doing so, a Confidential Mode dialog box will pop up, allowing users to require an SMS passcode to open the email and set how long it will take for the feature's protections to expire. It's not clear whether or not the mode can be turned on indefinitely.

    It's worth pointing out that Confidential Mode's protections will likely be relatively easy to circumvent. As The Verge notes, a Confidential email recipient would only need to take a screenshot of an email to avoid these safeguards entirely.

    Still, in the wake of data privacy scandals like Facebook's recent Cambridge Analytica incident, it's nice to see companies like Google offering their users extra privacy features.

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  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,009   +2,499

    A confidential mode over the internet? Who are they trying to kid?
     
    H3llion and SirChocula like this.
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,922   +1,279

  4. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,481   +331

    I suppose this is a lot to do with GDPR and companies using GMAIL so makes it easier for them to "protect" both parties from prosecutions in-case a court order was filed?

    Also, please don't **** with the UI too much. Most other webmail clients are terrible...
     
  5. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 5,119   +4,180

    How to copy an email protected by Gmail confidential mode: Open email --> take screenshot --> save screenshot.

    Alternatively,

    Open email --> take screenshot --> run through image-to-text processor --> save as
     
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,922   +1,279

    @davislane1 yes, that was noted in the original description as well as this is still a work in progress. Interesting to see *IF* screenshots can/will be disabled. There's a better chance in the App.
     
  7. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 5,119   +4,180

    Can’t thwart this exploit because you can’t prevent screenshotting from external devices. You can stop casual users from copying an email, but anyone who has reason to keep documentation can easily do so.
     
  8. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,922   +1,279

    Screenshot(s) are not device features, but an OS feature of the active screen, so What 'external Device' do you refer?
     
  9. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 5,119   +4,180

    I'm using layperson's terms, not technical terms. External device = smartphone or camera.
     

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