Secure email provider ProtonMail just transmitted user data to the police

When you sign up for a free email account, this service comes at the expense of your privacy. By agreeing to the terms and conditions, your provider can follow as much as they want, from financial records to private messages. Tap or click here to find out how much your email provider is collecting from you.

If you want to avoid this type of invasive surveillance, you can look for email providers that prioritize privacy. For a long time, ProtonMail has been regarded as one of the most secure email providers in the market. Many users believed that it did not keep user records.

Recently, the company transmitted sensitive information about its customers to French law enforcement officers following a legally binding request. This leaves customers wondering how this is possible.

What happened?

Many activists, journalists and privacy experts use ProtonMail for its end-to-end encrypted services. If you are not familiar with encryption, it is a security tool that hides the content of your messages.

This way scary third parties cannot peek at your private emails. Only someone with a specific numeric code can open emails you send.

People seeking anonymity have flocked to ProtonMail in the past. This is because it does not collect IP addresses by default. But the fact that Swiss law obliges it to reveal this data to the authorities worries users.

“By default, we don’t keep any IP logs that can be linked to your anonymous email account,” its website said. According to MSN, the company has reworded this section of its website.

ProtonMail US chief communications officer Matt Fossen said the company made these changes for clarity. “It quickly became apparent that a lot of people didn’t understand what we meant, so we made a few changes to the website to make things clearer, ”he said.

While investigating a climate activist, French police found his email address, which was with ProtonMail. Officials told ProtonMail to spit out the IP information behind that address. This led to multiple arrests.

In a blog postProtonMail CEO and Founder Andy Yen says his company’s hands were tied. “Proton has received a legally binding order from the Swiss authorities which we are required to comply with. There was no possibility of appealing this particular request.

Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Beast that when a service says privacy first, people often skip reading the details in the terms of service.

“If you take a look at ProtonMail’s marketing and advertising, you’ll see that they market themselves as a privacy-protecting messaging service….

This claim has now been removed from the ProtonMail website. Depending on the policy, the company may share the following with Swiss authorities: time of last login, email address, subject lines, sender or recipient email addresses, and IP addresses of incoming messages. .

Fossen says ProtonMail “fights very hard against requests that we deem inappropriate or invasive.” You can see a current list of these requests here.

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June J. Lopez

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