ProtonMail log IP address of a French activist. Do you need to worry about your privacy?

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French activist ProtonMail log IP address

ProtonMail is usually in the news about its powerful privacy features and how it works as an alternative to privacy-friendly Gmail. However, this is not the case.The company is currently facing widespread criticism Record the IP addresses of French activists and disclose them to law enforcement authorities.. Disclosure of this information led to the arrest of activists. This article explains exactly what happened and why ProtonMail revealed the user’s IP address. It also discusses whether you can trust ProtonMail for privacy and its alternatives.

French activist ProtonMail log IP address: everything you need to know

Why did ProtonMail log the IP address?

Before explaining why ProtonMail recorded an IP address, it’s important to have background information on the incident to get a complete picture. For the past year, French climate activists have acquired commercial apartments near Sainte-Mart, France. According to activists, this move is to fight gentrification. For strangers, gentrification is the process by which a neighborhood is occupied by relatively wealthy people. After that, real estate investment will flow in and the living expenses of the average person in the area will rise.

The activist in question was part of Youth for Climate / Friday for Future, a climate strike movement initiated by activist Greta Thunberg. According to Secours Rouge, the French branch of the International Red Aid, at least one Youth For Climate activist used ProtonMail for communications. ProtonMail is based in Switzerland and adheres to Swiss law, so it generally does not share data with French authorities. However, French police sought the support of the Swiss government through Europole in their investigation. This move caused ProtonMail to log the user’s IP address after receiving the legal request.

What did the authorities demand and what did ProtonMail disclose?

As described above, ProtonMail cannot share data directly with foreign governments.. In fact, under Article 271 of the Swiss Criminal Code, it is illegal to do this. Police have gained access to IP addresses as Swiss authorities have chosen to work with the French government. ProtonMail also points out how Swiss authorities can only approve requests that meet Swiss legal standards.

So what else did ProtonMail disclose? Thanks to ProtonMail’s encryption, email content such as text, attachments, and media cannot be accessed under legal instructions. In a blog post that clarifies that stance, ProtonMail said it doesn’t know the user’s identity in IP logging. “I was unaware that the target users were climate change activists. I know that orders for data from the Swiss government were usually made through channels reserved for serious crimes. We know. “ I wrote a company.

Under Swiss law, ProtonMail must notify users if a third party requests personal data and if the data is for a criminal procedure. However, there are major pitfalls / loopholes here. On the law enforcement page, ProtonMail emphasizes that notifications can be delayed In the following cases:

  • If the provision of notice is temporarily prohibited by the Swiss legal process itself, a Swiss court order, or applicable Swiss law.
  • Based on information provided by law enforcement agencies, we, in absolute discretion, provide notice at risk of injury, death, or irreparable damage to an identifiable individual or group of individuals. I think there is a possibility.
  • However, as a general rule, eligible users will eventually be notified and will be given the opportunity to oppose the data request by either ProtonMail or the Swiss authorities.

This case seems to be the first case, which is why ProtonMail didn’t notify the user. “Some orders are final and cannot be appealed. That is the legal system and not all can be appealed. For the same reason that we do not notify the suspect before arresting him. , The user was not notified. “ To tell Andy Yen, the founder of ProtonMail.

According to a copy of the police report circulating on Twitter, the details found by the French police include the date the email address was created, the user’s IP address, the device used, and the phone number associated with it. It is included.

What about ProtonMail’s nolog policy?

At this point, you may be wondering about the policy without IP logging that you’ve been boldly promoting on the ProtonMail website home page. Well, that claim no longer exists. The company has updated its home page to remove the mention of not keeping IP logs. This is one of the reasons we came here.

Thanks to the backup of the Internet Archive, what the old copy said is: “You don’t need any personal information to create a secure email account. By default, we don’t keep an IP log that can link to an anonymous email account. Your privacy is paramount.”

And the contents of the updated copy are: “ProtonMail is an email that respects privacy and puts people first (not advertisers). Your data is yours and our encryption guarantees it. Anonymous email gateways too It offers.”

You can see them in the image comparison below.

  • Protonmail's old homepage
  • Protonmail's new homepage

It is also worth clarifying it ProtonMail does not collect IP addresses by default.. Instead, Monitoring / logging begins after ProtonMail receives a legal request.. “In extreme criminal cases, ProtonMail may also be obliged to monitor the IP address used to access ProtonMail accounts engaged in criminal activity. Cases are subject to these enhanced obligations. Will only be decided by the Swiss authorities, not ProtonMail. ” Read the company’s transparency report.

Is ProtonVPN safe to use?

Apart from ProtonMail, Proton Technologies has a popular VPN service that people often recommend as the best free VPN service. If you are a ProtonVPN user who has doubts about your company’s integrity after an IP logging incident, here are some things to know: According to the company, their email and VPN services are subject to different terms under current Swiss law.Therefore, the company is a legal authority You cannot force ProtonVPN user data to be logged..

How to make ProtonMail more secure?

Use onion sites to avoid ProtonMail IP logging

If you need an additional layer of privacy, ProtonMail has an onion site that you can use from your Tor browser. It’s been around since 2017, and if you’re really privacy conscious, we highly recommend using ProtonMail. If you’re not a high-risk person, you can consider investing in a high-priced paid VPN.

Can you still trust ProtonMail to protect your privacy?

So what did ProtonMail make a mistake in this case? To get started, the lack of transparency about its features is on its front page. Claiming to be a secure email service, we expected the company to better disclose how it handles legal requests. Earlier copies of the site’s home page claim that they don’t keep IP logs by default, which actually misleads the average customer. However, it is worth mentioning that the company has updated its wording to better reflect reality.

And, as the old saying goes, Reading fine print is always a good idea. The activist in question could have avoided the entire incident by spending time and effort reading the privacy policy. As a law-abiding company, we cannot completely blame ProtonMail here. But to prevent this from happening in the first place, the company should have been able to communicate better.

ProtonMail alternative

If you want to switch from ProtonMail, you can consider alternative services such as Tutanota and Posteo. You can find more privacy-centric email services like this in our article on the best Gmail alternatives and the best free email service providers. If you ask me, if you value your privacy, Tutanota or Posteo is what you should see. However, even these services are not affected by local law. Therefore, switching does not bring much benefit.

ProtonMail French Activist IP Logging Incident Description

This is all you need to know about ProtonMail’s French activist IP logging incident. On the other hand, you can also use secure messaging apps such as Signal and Matrix-based Elements for sensitive chats. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave a comment. We will support you.