MADRID, 7 Sep. (Portaltic/EP) –
The provider ProtonMail has defended his role in the arrest of a French activist after the French authorities managed to access the IP address of this person, a user of this email service.
ProtonMail is a mail service created by CERN scientists that advocates for the protection of privacy and security on the Internet, and that has more than one million users worldwide.
The arrest of the French activist has motivated criticism of this service, which has led its executive director, Andy Yen, to give an explanation “for the sake of transparency”, as he has expressed from the official blog this Monday.
In this sense, the manager assures that they received a “legally binding” order from the Swiss authorities (this provider’s headquarters are in Geneva), which they were “required to comply with” and for which they had no possibility of appeal.
Proton is governed by Swiss law, which means that “it may be compelled to collect information about accounts belonging to users under Swiss criminal investigation.” However, this it only happens with a legal order for a specific account.
The arrested activist is part of an environmental collective, Youth For Climate, that in recent months has carried out protest actions in the Sainte Marthe square, in Paris, and its surroundings to denounce and combat gentrification, real estate speculation or services such as Airbnb.
This collective used a ProtonMail account to communicate, as explained by the collective in Paris.Luttes. On the occasion of a series of police investigations, the French authorities contacted Europol so that this agency would request Proton information about the creator of the email account–
The user MuArF has shared on Twitter a fragment of a police report where the response of the provider is collected, with information such as when the account was created, the IP address linked to it and the number of the device from which it was used.
Yen has acknowledged the report, as noted on TechCrunch, and has urged reviewing their policy to find out how they handle requests from authorities in a response to MuArF’s tweet.
For this case, ensure that do not provide data to foreign governments, but must follow legally binding orders from Swiss authorities– And that the Swiss authorities only approve applications that comply with the legal standards of this country.
Furthermore, users must be notified in the event that a request is made regarding their private data, and if such data will be used in criminal proceedings.
Yen also assures that “given Proton’s strict privacy”, they do not know the identity of the users of their service, and that “at no time” did they know that the target users were climate activists. “We only know that the Swiss government’s request for data was made through channels normally reserved for serious crimes,” he says.