Leave no trace of your electronic correspondence

Aug 11, 2010 By Craig Crossman, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Before e-mail, we sent letters to each other and in the business world, they were like mini-contracts. Whatever was said in those documents could be used to confirm agreements, conditions, promises made, whatever. Now when you call someone, there's no record of what was said so unless the conversation was being recorded, there really is no way to prove what was said. Of course the conversation may have been recorded but that's still illegal in most states unless both parties agree to being recorded, and there's an audio tone being heard every few seconds on the recording. But you can't always call someone so we still need to correspond.

To do that today we mostly use e-mail because it's faster, cheaper and easier than licking stamps. But like those letters of yore, e-mail still carries a virtual trail with it that can be used to confirm whatever was typed within. So how can you electronically correspond today and maintain the advantages of an oral conversation? That's what a new service called VaporStream is offering and it really works.

The way to use VaporStream is pretty straightforward. Everyone to whom you want to correspond with must first set up a VaporStream account. Remember that you had to set up an e-mail account to use e-mail, a Facebook account to use Facebook, etc., so this really isn't an unreasonable requirement. Once done, you can begin typing anything you want to send and read anything sent to you. The only difference here is that whatever you send and receive can't be saved. After you read it and close the page, it's gone just like a telephone conversation after you hang up.

Now I can already guess what you're thinking. Why not just print it out and save it? Or you could do a screen printout or even take a photograph of the screen, right? Or maybe you could capture the image in the browser cache. Well according to VaporStream, they've designed their technology so that you can't use the browser's Back button to display the image and the info isn't held in the browser's cache. It's also engineered so you can't print out a VaporStream correspondence screen. But you know what? Even if you could do all of the above, it wouldn't make a difference anyway. That's because there is no information on the VaporStream screen that displays who typed it. So even if you find some way to capture the text, it doesn't really matter since there's no way to prove who typed it to you and someone could easily say that you just typed it yourself. In other words, there's no way the correspondence can be used for or against you in a court of law because there's nothing to show who typed it. Clever, huh?

So how do you know who's corresponding to you? Just as in a phone conversation, you know the person who is on the other end of the line when you speak to them and they know who you are as well. In the same way, from the subject matter within the correspondence, there should be enough information in there for you to know the person who sent it to you. That's pretty much it.

VaporStream offers a truly recordless messaging solution. I haven't seen anything like it. For starters, e-mails are easily identifiable. And even if you delete them, they can be recovered and copies can typically be found and recovered on e-mail servers. Even Instant Messages can be logged, identified and traced and IMs require that both parties be online at the same time. So if you want to write something that can be opened by someone later on, and you don't want any record of it to remain somewhere out there after it's been read, then VaporStream is something you're going to want to check out. By the way, if you're thinking of using VaporStream for something bad or illegal, think again as VaporStream subscribes to Federal wiretapping laws and you will be held accountable.

VaporStream works with any computer that can access the Internet and supports most browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox. There's even a free iPhone app to send and receive VaporStream correspondences. You begin with a free 30-day trial and then it costs $7.50 a month.

Now whatever you have to say to someone, you can rest assured that your correspondence will never come back to bite you.

Explore further: Google removes news snippets in Germany legal fight

More information: www.vaporstream.com

4 /5 (4 votes)
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LariAnn
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2010
I would think that VaporStream does save messages somehow in case they are needed by law enforcement. Otherwise, what's the use of "subscribing to Federal wiretapping laws" without any record? To be held accountable requires that a record of some type be kept to demonstrate who is the guilty party. This record could then be used in a court case if necessary.
Squirrel
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2010
VaporStream could be recorded for legal purposes by videoing constantly your monitor so that your email activity with an individual could be tracked in terms of each email's response relationship with each other. While one email will not preserve information as to who sent it, a series of email that follow as responses to each other would contain content connections that could preserve identity information given out in one that could link to legal important information in another otherwise anonymous email.
Arkaleus
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2010
What does "subscribing" to a law mean? Do they get a regular copy of the federal law in the mail, like a magazine?

So what does this "product" offer Americans? Additional records to be used in court against themselves? Why not just pass all internet traffic through NSA computers - oh wait, that's what's already done.

That's why the NSA needs to build its data storage facility in Utah, because the people of Utah are very happy to help the NSA achieve their goals of total information awareness.
Drumsk8
not rated yet Aug 11, 2010
Well this technology would break EU laws since a few years ago they introduced a law which required companies and establishments to retain a backup of all communications email ect.. for a period of 2-3 years I believe.

Secondly one has to wonder what would need to be sent about the world in such a way that they wouldn't want to get tracked?? Hackers use private encrypted email servers and BBS. And I am sure the terrorists have there means of doing so as well. Plus what's wrong with good old fashioned cryptic encoding of a message to be blurred between the lines?