Ephemeral e-mails: Startup shows off self-destructing messages

SELF-DESTRUCTING E-MAILS: Barthes (left) and Tigges at a Collision technology conference in Las Vegas, Nevada with their soon-to-be launched application for adding vanishing message capabilities to existing e-mail accounts.

LAS VEGAS: A startup company wants to make your e-mails vanish forever – but in a good way. 

The firm, Confidential CC, has created an application that lets people send self-destructing messages from whatever e-mail accounts they fancy. 

Unlike rival apps dedicated to sending messages or images that vanish after being viewed, Confidential CC is designed to work with existing e-mail accounts such as Gmail and Outlook. 

"You receive all your e-mail like usual, we just add a new address line that lets you send a CCC self-destruct email," said company co-founder Warren Barthes, speaking at the Collision technology conference in Las Vegas. 

The Confidential CC app for iPhones and other Apple mobile devices is now available on the App Store, and becomes fully functional on May 21. Versions for Android-powered devices and desktop computers are also planned. 

Confidential CC serves as a central hub on a smartphone or tablet to manage any or all e-mail accounts. After firing up the app, people log into their email accounts as they normally would, the former French telecom executive demonstrated. 

A 'CCC' address line appears below the 'BCC' box email users are accustomed to seeing. 

CCC messages can't be printed, forwarded or saved, and vanish after being closed. They are also encrypted from end-to-end. 

To thwart those who might think to take a picture of an ephemeral e-mail, identities of senders and recipients are not displayed simultaneously, and text in messages shifts from blurred to focused as readers scroll through. 

"We give power to the sender," said Barthes, who joined co-founder Rachel Tigges in starting Confidential CC about three years ago after moving from his home country of France to New York City. 

Additional features in the Confidential CC application include cancelling accidentally sent messages, fetching attachments, and setting times for e-mail to be sent. 

The Confidential application will be free at the outset, with the startup intent on refining it before looking to money-making methods such as charging for downloads or licensing service to banks or other companies where security of information is paramount. 

"Digital communications are under constant misuse today – from private e-mails being forwarded accidentally to malicious attacks threatening a business or government," Tigges said. 

"It's unacceptable that e-mail, which is free and open for all, is presenting such huge risk to users. Maybe, in five years, people will use CCC lines in Gmail, Outlook, everywhere." – AFP

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