Nightly News   |  October 31, 2013

Is email ever private?

Critical questions are being raised about data safety in light of hacking reports and news about NSA data collection. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk explains what happens after you hit ‘send’ on an email message.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> all of this troubling news has left a lot of people wondering what, if any, electronic communications are private. tonight nbc's stephanie gausz takes a look.

>> the beauty of the internet, my mom will have this e-mail on her phone in a matter of seconds. once i hit send where does it go? how does it get there? and who can get access? every second of every day massive amounts of data speed through an elaborate system created and controlled by companies like yahoo and google. they call it the cloud. don't be misled. this is a brick and mortar network. fiber cables transport, warehouse sized data centers collect and store.

>> for your e-mail account you can have years worth of data stored in your account. this is google's facility one of six in the united states . there are another seven overseas.

>> a lot of people think if i am in the u.s. my data is stored here in the u.s. that is not really the case.

>> google says the data centers are well protected, in some cases relying on bio metrics to screen employees. the company is working to encrypt the fiber lines. even if the system is secure, make no mistake, these internet giants have become the gate keepers of our digital lives.

>> we put all of our digital eggs into their baskets. whether that is wise in terms of privacy and security is, i think, a very open question .

>> today we are getting a little digitally vulnerable, there is only one fool proof way around it, write a letter and get a stamp. stephanie goss nbc news.