Huge demand for NSA-proof email: ProtonMail uses a month’s server capacity in 3 days
There’s a huge demand for private and secure email that is as easy to use as Gmail or Outlook, just ask the Harvard and MIT students who created a Swiss-based end-to-end encrypted email service called ProtonMail. You can request a beta signup and even reserve your ProtonMail username now, but you can’t access a new account right now unless you previously signed up as a beta user. ProtonMail had resources to support over one month of user signups, but demand for the NSA-proof email was so high that the limit was used up in about 60 hours.
ProtonMail promised to ignore law enforcement requests, according to FreedomHacker, “unless they are accompanied by an enforceable Swiss court order. These court orders are extremely difficult to obtain as the case must first work its way through the Swiss legal system which has strong privacy protections. And even then, we do not have access to user encryption keys so any data we do turn over would be encrypted.”
The Switzerland-based startup, established by MIT, Harvard and CERN researchers, couldn’t access money that crowdfunding backers have given it, because PayPal had frozen its account. A PayPal rep apparently asked if ProtonMail had asked the government for permission to offer encryption.
In a blog post on Monday, the ProtonMail team began by erring towards the former explanation:
Like many others, we have all heard the PayPal horror stories, but didn’t actually think it would happen to us on our campaign since PayPal promised, very recently, to improve their policies. Unfortunately, it seems those were hollow promises as ProtonMail is now the latest in a long string of crowdfunding campaigns to be hit with account freezes.
However, this may be more complicated than that. ProtonMail went on to ask why it was being singled out, then dropped this weird detail:
When we pressed the PayPal representative on the phone for further details, he questioned whether ProtonMail is legal and if we have government approval to encrypt emails. We are not sure which government PayPal is referring to, but even the 4th Amendment of the U.S. constitution guarantees: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures….
ECHR – Article 8 – the right to a private life is a HUMAN RIGHT in Europe. The client is in Europe… European Data Protection Laws apply. American laws have no jurisdiction in Europe.