An Email Service So Secure Even the NSA Can’t Crack It?

It’s been a year since former government contractor Edward Snowden started to reveal the extent to which the National Security Agency was spying on various forms of communications in the name of national security. With this and other revelations made since, many have felt their privacy rights have been infringed and have turned to more secure Web and email servers, but even some of those suspended their service due to pressure from the government.

Now, there might just be a service secure enough that even the NSA can’t touch it. Meet ProtonMail.

Developed by MIT and Harvard University scientists at CERN, the particle accelerator lab in Geneva, Switzerland, ProtonMail employs advanced cryptography that has instant encryption and decryption without any tracking or storage of user data. The team based the project in Switzerland, which it says has stricter privacy laws than the United States and those held in the European Union.

Image source: ProtonMail
Image source: ProtonMail

“I posted on Facebook, ‘Hey, I don’t really like the fact the government is wiretapping us. What’s happening in America?'” one of the developers, Andy Yen with Harvard told Bostino, recalling his thoughts after Snowden’s leaks started last year.

Then he and his colleagues did something about it.

“We’re definitely not for 100 percent of the population, but for those who don’t like what the government is doing,” co-founder Jason Stockman told Bostino.

ProtonMail’s public beta launched over the weekend and demand has been so high since that the administrators limited sign-ups temporarily. Stockman explained to Bostino that the service is as easy to use as Gmail because the encryption and decryption process is done without any action needed by the user.

What ProtonMail looks like. (Image source: ProtonMail)
What ProtonMail looks like. (Image source: ProtonMail)

“Unlike existing solutions, we have completely abstracted away the complex cryptography to make the encryption and decryption completely invisible to user,” Stockman told Cryptocoins News earlier this month after its private beta launched. “There’s no software to install and no keys to generate — it’s just like using Gmail, but way more secure.”

Yen highlighted the importance of such a service for some people.

“Say you’re an activist in China fighting for democracy, this is a life or death service,” he told Bostino.

But what if it’s not life or death or a matter of illegal activity? Stockman told Cryptocoins it’s “not a question of having something to hide — it’s a question of whether or not you believe privacy is a fundamental human right and whether it’s worth having at all.

“Nowadays, every aspect of our digital lives is saved, archived and ultimately out of our control. What we’re trying to do is return control of email data back to the user.”

While use of ProtonMail is free, it does offer higher capacity options that come at a cost.

Learn more about ProtonMail on its website.

 (H/T: BetaBeat)

Front page image via Shutterstock


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