Swiss software developer and civil liberties outfit Proton Technologies saw its encrypted email app ProtonMail hit the App Store today.

The iOS app is a front end for the company’s popular free worldwide end-to-end encrypted email service, built on the back of over half a million dollars raised in a 2014 crowdfunding campaign.

ProtonMail invisibly integrates PGP encryption into a modern user interface and operates on the service’s “zero access” policy, meaning all messages are stored in encrypted format so that not even ProtonMail has access to their contents.

PGP Encryption

Illustrated example of end-to-end encryption (Image: ProtonMail)

After creating a free email account, users can send and receive encrypted emails automatically, set timers for messages to self-destruct after sending, organize emails using swipe gestures and labels, and also send password-protected encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail email addresses.

ProtonMail’s encryption service is open source and hosted entirely in Switzerland, under the protection of some of the world’s strongest privacy laws.

Last year, the Swiss Parliament passed a new domestic surveillance law that increased the country’s state surveillance capabilities and curtailed privacy rights. However, ProtonMail has concluded that the law does not negatively impact the company’s secure email service.


Boxes of signatures being delivered to the Swiss government in Bern (Image: ProtonMail)

Despite that analysis, ProtonMail joined other civil liberty groups to mount a challenge against the new law, since according to Switzerland’s democratic system, any law can be challenged by collecting 50,000 signatures within a period of three months after its passage.

Those efforts resulted in 70,000 signatures being delivered to the Swiss parliament in January. This means that at the next election, the Swiss surveillance law will be put to a public vote by the entire country.

ProtonMail was founded in 2013 by MIT engineers and CERN scientists inspired by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of government mass surveillance programs.

ProtonMail is a free download for iPad and iPhone. [Direct Link]

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Tag: Encryption

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