An email signature to encourage encryption use

A great way to encourage more ubiquitous email encryption is to let people you’re emailing know that you’re equipped to use it, and that they can be too.

Some people use PGP signatures for that purpose, but inline signatures can be off-putting to people who don’t know what they are, and attachments can be similarly confusing. (Not to mention that, as XKCD notes, the security benefits are pretty slim.)

A one-line addition to an email signature is a good compromise. I propose the following:

I prefer to use encrypted email. My public key fingerprint is 4FF3 AA1B D29E 1638 32DE  C765 9433 5F88 9A36 7709. Learn how to encrypt your email with the Email Self Defense guide.

In my case, because I’ve got my key available on an HTTPS site, I’d probably link to it directly as well.

This system isn’t perfect, and in particular is not a very secure way to distribute your fingerprint. But it could be a good nudge to people who might be considering learning about email encryption while flagging you as somebody who might be able to help, and especially if you post to publicly archived mailing lists, it’s a way of getting your fingerprint tied to your emails in lots of places.

Published by Parker Higgins

I'm the Director of Special Projects at the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and previously led copyright activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I live and work in Brooklyn, New York. more »

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  1. Great idea for the signature! We’re working on an E-mail encryption tool that provides security comparable to PGP but is free of the the key exchange hassle, associated with PGP (or other similar tools) as it utilizes the relatively new NameCoin network for key delivery and tamper proof storage.

    Love the brief and descriptive signature text. Would you allow to use it for SecureDolphin? Feel free to take a look at or – The Chrome store link for GMail/Yahoo encryption extension


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