Many people are familiar with the company Hushmail, who provides encrypted web-based email that the company claims is completely private. In fact, the company makes it clear: "not even a Hushmail employee with access to our servers can read your encrypted e-mail, since each message is uniquely encoded before it leaves your computer." It turns out that isn't quite true. Wired reports that Hushmail handed the feds 12 CDs worth of plain text emails from the service
following a court order. The Wired piece goes into great detail concerning what happened here -- and the folks at Hushmail were quite honest about how their service works. Hushmail has two different versions, one which requires a java app to be downloaded, which handles all the encryption locally. The other, more popular one, is entirely web-based, meaning that your passphrase is stored on the server ever so briefly -- and that's how Hushmail was able to access the accounts required in the court order. So, while it's true that Hushmail is mostly secure outside of a court order, the marketing material on the site is at least a little misleading, implying that even in such cases, your email will be encrypted.