User Perceptions of Gmail’s Confidential Mode

Authors: Elham Al Qahtani (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Yousra Javed (Illinois State University), Mohamed Shehab (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

Volume: 2022
Issue: 1
Pages: 187–206
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/popets-2022-0010

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Abstract: Gmail’s confidential mode enables a user to send confidential emails and control access to their content through setting an expiration time and passcode, pre-expiry access revocation, and prevention of email forwarding, downloading, and printing. This paper aims to understand user perceptions and motivations for using Gmail’s confidential mode (GCM). Our structured interviews with 19 Gmail users at UNC Charlotte show that users utilize this mode to share their private documents with recipients and perceive that this mode encrypts their emails and attachments. The most commonly used feature of this mode is the default time expiration of one week, and the least used feature is the pre-expiry access revocation. Our analysis suggests several design improvements.

Keywords: Gmail Confidential Mode, Email, Encryption, Confidentiality, Privacy, User Perceptions, Ephemeral Communication

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