ProtonMail Logged IP Address of French Activist After Order By Swiss Authorities
ProtonMail, a hosted email service with a focus on end-to-end encrypted communications, has been facing criticism after a police report showed that French authorities managed to obtain the IP address of a French activist who was using the online service.
The company has communicated widely about the incident, stating that it doesn’t log IP addresses by default and it only complies with local regulation — in that case Swiss law. While ProtonMail didn’t cooperate with French authorities, French police sent a request to Swiss police via Europol to force the company to obtain the IP address of one of its users.
For the past year, a group of people have taken over a handful of commercial premises and apartments near Place Sainte Marthe in Paris. They want to fight against gentrification, real estate speculation, Airbnb and high-end restaurants. While it started as a local conflict, it quickly became a symbolic campaign. They attracted newspaper headlines when they started occupying premises rented by Le Petit Cambodge — a restaurant that was targeted by the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.
This weekend, news broke that security/privacy-focused anonymous email service ProtonMail turned over a French climate activist’s IP address and browser fingerprint to Swiss authorities. This move seemingly ran counter to the well-known service’s policies, which as recently as last week stated that “by default, we do not keep any IP logs which can be linked to your anonymous email account.”
After providing the activist’s metadata to Swiss authorities, ProtonMail removed the section that had promised no IP logs, replacing it with one saying, “ProtonMail is email that respects privacy and puts people (not advertisers) first.”