After the Sony mega-hack, protecting email privacy may seem paramount. But at digital payments startup Stripe, email isn’t kept all that private in the first place.
Recently, Stripe openly detailed the internal system it uses to achieve what it calls “email transparency,” saying “almost all” messages inside the company can be read by all employees. Private emails at Stripe aren’t forbidden. But they are the exception.
No, these emails can’t be read by people outside the company. But it shows that privacy isn’t always as important as we think it is. Stripe’s system is part of wide-ranging effort to build services that seek to make our communications more public, not less—an effort that includes everything from familiar consumer services like Facebook to business tools offered by the likes of Slack and GitHub.
As far as the technology goes, open email at Stripe isn’t that complicated. Employees are asked to CC any work-related emails to topic-specific mailing list archives managed through Google Groups. Project lists are the most common, but categories range from individual countries to a “crazyideas@” list. Via the lists, all email becomes public and searchable inside the company. Stripe now has 428 lists in all.