ProtonMail Goes Open Source, Launches Mobile Apps
“This means all the ProtonMail code that runs on your computer is now available for inspection,” notes the ProtonMail website. “We hope that by opening up our platform, we will encourage additional contributors to help us make ProtonMail the world’s most secure email service.”
ProtonMail also launched a public bug bounty program.
The World’s Most Secure Email Service
The development of ProtonMail started at CERN – just like the development of the Web itself – in response to growing concerns about governments spying on peaceful citizens’ email. “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it,” ProtonMail Co-Founder Andy Yen posted to a CERN Facebook group. Then ProtonMail started growing like wildfire and raised first $550,000 with crowdfunding, then a $2 million seed round from Charles River Ventures and FONGIT.
TechCrunch reports that, according to Yen, open source is an important component for pro-privacy services, coupled with having a solid financial base. “For privacy services, trust is very important as users are trusting us with their data, and potentially their lives. This is why we have now open sourced our web client in addition to our cryptography,” said Yen. “However, trust involves more than just open sourcing. Users also need to know that we have the expertise, personnel, and financial resources to continue to protect their data into the future. We have institutional backers, and this will allow us to successfully carry out our development.”
ProtonMail encrypts and decrypts all data on-the-fly on the client side, which means that emails between ProtonMail users are never stored and therefore the government can’t force their release. Another important feature is that ProtonMail, a Swiss company with servers located in secure data centers in Switzerland, is protected by privacy-friendly Swiss laws.
Encrypted email is but a first step. “We are scientists, engineers, and developers drawn together by a shared vision of protecting civil liberties online,” notes the ProtonMail website.
Our goal is to build an internet that is secure and protects privacy.
Everyone can apply for a ProtonMail account without releasing personal information. Interestingly, the sign-up procedure – like ProtonMail itself – works well over Tor. 500,000 users in the waiting list have been invited to open a ProtonMail account to date.
I was lucky enough to get early access and so far I am very pleased with the system, which seems an ideal compromise between security and usability. I plan to start using ProtonMail as primary email service, because using strong encryption and privacy measures by default is one of the little things that we all can do to protect the free Internet.
To make encrypted email even more usable, the ProtonMail apps for iOS and Android are scheduled for release today, August 20. I will be impatiently waiting to download the app, and report here in the comments.
Images from ProtonMail.