Why it matters: Proton prides itself on the privacy that a fully encrypted email service provides, but it may not offer anonymity as it appears. The company has come under fire for handing over the IP address of a French weather activist to Swiss police and then handing it over to French authorities.
According to a TechCrunch report, the controversy was discovered in a French police report. This showed how ProtonMail acted on a request that the French sent to the Swiss authorities via Interpol and had to provide an IP address. This year, a group of commercial properties and apartments near Place Sainte Marthe in Paris grabbed the headlines in the global media. The group published an article on an anti-capitalist website on September 1 claiming that French police sent a request to ProtonMail via Europol to identify the person who created their email account "firstname.lastname@example.org" to be discovered.
Proton CEO Andy Yen stresses that the Switzerland-based company must comply with state laws, as stated in its policies “Proton has received a binding legal order from the Swiss authorities We are obligated to comply with it.” By default, however, he may be forced to collect information about accounts belonging to users who are subject to a Swiss criminal investigation. He said the service could not be decrypted and that the company's foreign governments did not provide data.
Managed by Switzerland by law, ProtonMail must notify the user if a third party requests user data. According to TechCrunch, it appears that eight months have passed between the login and its disclosure to the account holder.
ProtonMail suggests that if using Onion and VPN anonymity, Yen said, adding that in the future, the company will better explain ProtonMail's obligations in criminal cases. p>
ProtonMail has been criticized for providing an active IP address to the authorities and resulting in their arrest