Switzerland-based ProtonMail offers an impenetrable mail client to everyone.
Online privacy is still a sensitive issue for many people, and one of the main reasons why a new encrypted mail service called ProtonMail could prove so popular. Launched last week by a group of Harvard and MIT students, the company is based in Switzerland, and offers a user-friendly experience that also comes complete with “end-to-end” encryption. There is even a “self-destruct” feature which ensures your emails are only available for a limited period of time.
Using the service is almost exactly the same as other email clients such as Gmail or Yahoo, which means there are no learning curves to hurdle. “Our vision is to make encryption and privacy mainstream by making it easy to use,” Stockman told AFP. “There’s no installation. Everything happens behind the scenes automatically.” ProtonMail works on all devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, all you need is a web browser.
The decision to set up shop in Switzerland was also a strategic one, as stated on the company’s website, “We are outside of US and EU jurisdiction and all user data is protected by strict Swiss privacy laws.” Not only that, but there is no way for ProtonMail to leak the contents of your email either, “We have no access to your messages, and since we cannot decrypt them, we cannot share them with third parties.”
Even though it seems like it could be the kind of thing that might draw shady individuals, international criminals, and other people who would want to avoid the law, it is also a service that could hold a lot of appeal for average citizens. “As our users from China, Iran, Russia, and other countries around the world have shown us in the past months, ProtonMail is an important tool for freedom of speech and we are happy to finally be able to provide this to the whole world,” the company said in a blog post.
The service is currently available as a freemium product, which means you can sign up for free, and decide whether or not you want to pay for additional features. Unlike Lavabit, a similar service which chose to shut down instead of hand over information to the US government, the hope is that ProtonMail will be able to offer people a way to keep their communications the way they were always meant to be, private.