Following a year of NSA bulk Internet surveillance program leaks, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard students have come together to create what they call “NSA-proof” email.
Dubbed ProtonMail by its five creators, the service is designed to be a more-secure replacement for the now-defunct Lavabit — the former email platform of choice for NSA contractor and prolific surveillance program leaker Edward Snowden.
ProtonMail launched its open beta over the weekend after weeks of testing in private, and the service is incorporated in Switzerland, “which offers some of the strongest privacy protection in the world for both individuals and entities,” according to the platform’s website.
Thanks to the service’s deep user authentication requirements and end-to-end encryption protocols, which mask data throughout the entire transmission process from one inbox to another without ever going through decryption across the Web, not even ProtonMail employees can see users’ data, let alone government surveillance agencies.
“Even we don’t have the ability to read that email,” ProtonMail creator Andy Yen told BostInno. “If we can’t read it, we obviously can’t turn it over to any government agencies.”
The programmers also drew inspiration from SnapChat, and included a feature allowing senders to remotely delete an email after its been in a recipient’s inbox for a designated amount of time.
ProtonMail’s founders met at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, and came up with the idea while reflecting over the still-ongoing revelations of NSA’s ability to collect virtually all of designated targets’ communications, and their desire for a secure method of web-based information exchange.
Though still in beta development, the service is reportedly easy to use and free.