I helped to beta test StartMail when it began a few years ago, and have been a subscriber ever since. For anyone here who has aspirations of being a spy, one of the things that StarMail offers is PGP encryption. Techies will recognize PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) as being a technology that has been around for quite awhile and which may be obtained for free. PGP is not proprietary to StartMail, but StartMail makes it easier. Oh, I am sure that this doesn’t mean that the government will be wholly incapable of accessing your email if they are determined to do so, but it does mean that it won’t be scanned by them routinely, as is mail sent through several free email services, as well as that sent through many well known Internet service providers. On the other hand, they might just assume you're a spy because you're encrypting your email. Using StartMail does mean that your email is less likely to be captured by hackers, who have routinely accessed the databases of several Internet service providers and free email providers. If it were, and you were using encryption, there would be the extra burden on the part of whoever wanted your stuff of having to decipher it. In other words, you’d be pretty safe from routine scanning, although probably not immune from being accessed if you are a target. When one person on StartMail is sending a message to another person on StartMail, then the text of the message can be encrypted. The text of the message is stored on StartMail’s servers rather than in the email recipient’s in-box, so it wouldn’t be available to anyone hacking or otherwise searching through the recipient’s computer files. After a set time, sent email will self destruct, but a copy will remain in the sender’s “Sent” folder until or unless it is deleted. When you write to someone who is using PGP encryption through an email service other than StartMail, in order to send an encrypted message, you would have to first get their PGP public key and import it into StartMail, something that you would have to do only once for each recipient. If, like most of us, you don’t really see yourself as living the life of a spy, and don’t really want to play around with encryption, there are still advantages to StartMail. Have you ever wanted to order something online from a company you are likely to shop with only once, make a political contribution, take part in a poll, or do something else that is asking for your email address? Knowing that some of these sites will sell your email address to a marketing company, you might be hesitant to do so. I still get spam from dozens of Republican candidates whom I would never vote for, let alone contribute to, because I made a few contributions to the Ron Paul campaign in 2012, and every Republican politician on the planet now has my email address. It’s probably fair to say that most of the spam that I get is the result of having given my email address to different sites that were asking for it for one reason or another. Through StartMail, you can send an email from an alias or anonymous address. StartMail allows you to create a short-lived, anonymous email address. You can create short-lived, random-character aliases, and set their expiration date. Disposable email addresses have a maximum lifespan of two weeks, or less if you set another date. After that date, they are gone, leaving whoever might be collecting your email address with no way to spam you. Disposable email addresses never display the name associated with the account. Only the chosen alias is shown. With StartMail, you can also create up to ten custom aliases, with usernames that you choose, that you can keep indefinitely. An alias allows you to send and receive email at an email address different from the one on your account. These email addresses can be permanent or temporary, and they end in use.startmail.com instead of startmail.com as your master email address would. You can have more than ten, but only ten can be active at any time. Emails sent to and from disposable or custom aliases will appear in the regular account’s Inbox and Sent folder just like emails sent to or from the main StartMail account. They do not have their own folders. Ninety percent of the email that I send through StartMail is of content that does not need to be encrypted, and it is sent to regular people who are not using StartMail so, while I use the encryption from time to time, I don’t have a great need for it. It’s nice to know that it is there, however. Even when I am not using encryption, my email is better protected than if I were using an email account from Microsoft, Yahoo, or my Internet provider. Every email that passes through a free email server is scanned and analyzed for personal details about your life. My wife and I have tried this using our Gmail addresses. Send a few emails back and forth discussing a specific product or medical condition and within a week or so, if not sooner, you will begin to see ads for that product or for cures for that condition on your Facebook wall. From the news, we know that many of these companies routinely send data to the NSA, which indexes and catalogs it. I know that some of you aren’t concerned about privacy and, for what it’s worth, I am not plotting to overthrow the government or anything either, but it still irritates me to know that my government is spying on me. StartMail is not a free email service. It costs $59.95 per year. I pay it because that’s worth it to me and because I don’t actually pay quite that much. Because I beta tested it, I get a $12 per year discount for as long as I keep renewing it. I don’t actually use it as often as I should because I haven’t moved most of my stuff over to my StartMail address yet, although I have had it for a few years now. Rather than being hosted in the United States, StartMail’s data centers are located in The Netherlands because the Dutch have stronger privacy protection laws. This is not something that very many of you will be interested in, particularly when it means paying $60 a year for something you can get free elsewhere, or from your ISP. That's okay, because I am not selling anything. This isn't an affiliate scheme or promotion on my part. In other words, I don't get paid if you subscribe. However, if you are interested, I am allowed to distribute one Companion account, which is basically a one-year trial account, which is free for one year, and which may be upgraded to a Personal (paid) account before that year is up, but may not be renewed as a free account. Otherwise, their trial period is only seven days. I was allowed two but I gave one of them away, and just realized that I still have one left, so if you’re interested, let me know. If more than one of you is interested, I can always use my random number generator. For techies, the StartMail whitepaper is here.