Proton to renew its Tor mail web app after having to hand over the user’s IP address

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Proton, the privacy-oriented e-mail and VPN service from Switzerland, is going to update its Tor e-mail client. It should be ‘on par with the web app’ and should be available before the end of the year. The company also provides information about online privacy.

Proton refers in relatively general terms to the incident in which it was obliged to hand over the IP address of a climate activist to the Swiss authorities. The French had submitted that request to the Swiss via Europol, the Swiss got to work on it and Proton could not contest it. The incident is the reason for the updates and changes that Proton is now announcing.

The most prominent of these is that Proton is going to give its Tor variant of the email client a major update. That ‘experience’ has to be at the same level as the regular web client. At the moment ‘a compatibility problem’ is getting in the way, but to solve that, Proton is working with Mozilla and the Tor project. Mozilla is involved because the Tor browser is based on Firefox. The Tor variant of Protonmail should have had the update before the end of the year. IP addresses of users cannot easily be found if they use this variant, or a VPN.

Proton will continue to publish a series of educational materials called Privacy Decrypted. This one will “help debunk privacy myths and help people to” […] determine how and with whom their data is shared’. The materials will be online in the coming week.

Finally, the company admits that its “communications stating that it does not log IP addresses by default were incomplete and unintentionally confusing.” They say they regret that and ‘communication processes will be improved to prevent this in the future’. Proton underlines that its VPN service does not keep logs and cannot be obliged to do so, but that it can be obliged to do so when it comes to its e-mail service. Earlier this month, the ProtonMail product page was already adapted for this purpose.

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