So protonmail is compromised, which truly secure alternatives are there?

I won’t get into the details but you can get up to date here:

So - what alternatives are there? Any ideas?

I would not say Protonmail is “compromised”. Like everyone else, they are not above the law and the law is not perfect. There is a pretty good explanation here:

The most interesting technical point is this: Proton received a request from the authorities to hand over the IP from which a certain account was accessed. You could neutralize that particular piece of information by accessing Protonmail through TOR. They even have their own onion site. If the Paris activists had done so, Proton would still have handed the IP numbers to the authorities, but those numbers would have not lead to the identification of the account’s users.

Smari’s response :upside_down_face:

“Carrier pigeons with messages encrypted with one time pads. Email is virtually impossible to secure. Mailpile is pretty good, but still a bit tricky to use. And it doesn’t solve the actual problem, which is that virtually nobody has encryption keys.”

the fundamental issue here is that certain laws are being applied questionably on activists. Which is a much bigger problem that whatever technology provider one uses for the communications…

I wonder if we should examine the premise of the question? Security concerns have even been raised in regards to Tor, Tor exit nodes, etc… As a person who follows the money to understand incentives, I find Tor’s funding quite suspicious. At best - using Tor would have forced the state to employ a different forensic method if they wanted to accost climate activists.

There are four premises that I do think are true:

  1. ProtonMail’s cryptographic guarantees remain intact.
  2. ProtonMail provided metadata on certain individuals at the state’s request.
  3. States will inevitably abuse certain laws if citizens threaten those who hold power.
  4. There is no such thing as a truly secure system.

I am not discouraged by the axioms. We can still help activists. But certain realities must be clearly communicated to people doing the hard work on the ground. Unfortunately, ProtonMail’s own marketing effort makes this all more difficult.

Clear communication might not be a very satisfying answer, but it might be the best we have. Other network-wide technology solutions outside of Tor might include encrypted DNS and DIDs. But neither are ready for everyday use right now.

And then there are the myriad of messaging services. Signal and Matrix might be the best in this area. Even here, there are OS-level vulnerabilities. So any underlying technology stack would need to be open source.

Finally, I think an under-valued component is interoperability. Interoperable standards provide social and market defenses against abuse absent of technological guarantees. Case in point - I moved to Runbox for my eMail a few years ago because I like the privacy standards in Norway and the company’s ecological position. eMail as an interoperable standard is an important part of the security story IMHO.


That sounds very reasonable.

Also a good point, and a lovely story. Doctorow likes to speak of “adversarial interoperability”. It does just what you describe, allowing you to take your business elsewhere while not losing any of your content and connections. But it needs to be enforced, because it makes the market for digital services much more competitive and Big Tech monopolists hate it.

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This is an important point. It’s up to common lawmakers to protect acts of adversarial interoperability. As Doctorow points out - the companies that benefit from it are the first to lobby lawmakers to then prevent others from the same access to “intellectual property.”

Protecting these rights are another way that we are activists that can protect activists when they use digital tools.