Advocacy is an essential part of what we do at Proton because it is integral to our vision of building a better internet where privacy is the default. Technological safeguards like end-to-end encryption can dramatically improve your privacy, but they cannot solve the problem entirely on their own. Your privacy requires strong privacy laws. The same is true for the free flow of information. A VPN can help you bypass internet blocks, but having the legal right to freedom of speech is also important.
That is why, throughout our history, Proton has fought for stronger legal protections and stood up for people whose rights were being trampled. We have focused our efforts in two main areas:
- Fighting for strong privacy laws
- Supporting the free flow of information
In the 2022 community survey, a majority of users thought that Proton should fight for privacy and freedom beyond technology. In line with your feedback, here are some ways we plan to continue our efforts in these two areas.
Fighting for strong privacy laws
In recent years governments worldwide, including many democracies, have decided that watching everyone all of the time is the best way to maintain security, despite the fact that mass surveillance violates the right to privacy and is ineffective(new window). As a result, there have been many legislative attempts to weaken privacy rights, even in Europe.
We have focused our work on fighting government overreach, protecting end-to-end encryption, and creating a fair, competitive internet where privacy-focused services can flourish. Examples include:
- Our legal challenge against the Swiss government(new window), which prevented email providers from being subject to telecom providers’ data retention requirements
- Our support of a moratorium(new window) on the US government’s use of unregulated facial recognition surveillance in Massachusetts
- Our financial support for EDRi (European Digital Rights association)
- Our advocacy efforts around the Digital Markets Act(new window), which will curtail Big Tech’s power to dominate the internet, and similar legislation in the US(new window)
- Our opposition to proposals to break online encryption, like the US’s EARN IT bill(new window) and Australia’s Assistance and Access law(new window)
In 2022 and the years to come, we will continue to vigorously defend the use of strong encryption and fight against mandatory data retention laws that presume guilt instead of innocence. This work involves supporting civil society groups or direct legal efforts through the courts.
Another area of focus in 2022 will be our public policy efforts to ensure fair competition on the internet and prevent Big Tech from leveraging its monopoly power to stifle competing services. A fair and competitive internet that is not dominated by Big Tech and surveillance capitalism is essential for privacy to survive in the 21st century.
Supporting the free flow of information
Ensuring people can access accurate information is essential for democracy. Proton supports independent journalism that accurately reports the news so that people can make informed decisions.
Along those lines, we also work to ensure that people can always access censored content. Fighting censorship and supporting independent journalism are two sides of the same coin, and both require that information flows freely. Examples of our work in this area include:
- Our support for Charter’97(new window), an independent news outlet in Belarus that was the target of government attacks
- Our partnership with Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in which we offer free Proton Mail and Proton VPN paid plans to RSF-affiliated journalists who work in conflict zones or under repressive regimes
- Raising HK$800,000 to support freedom of speech in Hong Kong(new window) and provide privacy tools to activists on the ground
- Our help funding RSF Germany’s Berlin Scholarship Program, which trains journalists on how to maintain cybersecurity when reporting on battlefields or in authoritarian countries
- Financially supporting the International Federation of Journalists’ Safety Fund, which assists journalists who face violence, persecution, illness, or exile due to their work
- Providing free VPN services around the world(new window) so that people there can access local independent news that has been censored
- Our financial support for the Tor project
Proton will always defend the freedom of the press and the free flow of information. We continue to work closely with RSF and are also directly supporting independent journalism in Russia and Ukraine.
Advocating for a better future
Proton’s main focus will always be building great privacy-focused services, and we are committed to Swiss neutrality and do not have a political agenda. However, as these examples demonstrate, Proton’s impact can — and must — go beyond just technology.
With the support of the Proton community, through initiatives such as our annual Lifetime account fundraisers, we have contributed over $1,000,000 towards efforts to build a better internet and defend privacy in the future. These efforts, which would not be possible without your support, help ensure strong legal protection for privacy to go along with our encryption technology and are crucial to ensuring that freedom and democracy can endure.