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ProtonMail Opens Email Encryption Service to All

ProtonMail, the encrypted email provider founded in May 2014, has finally come out of beta, releasing free iOS and Android apps and making itself available to everyone, co-founder Andy Yen said in a blog post today (March 17).

Credit: Carsten Reisinger/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Carsten Reisinger/Shutterstock)

"The past decade has been marked by a massive erosion of privacy, and we're working to reverse this trend," Yen said. "Encrypted communications is the future, and ProtonMail is committed to making online privacy a reality again for all Internet users."

The service offers end-to-end email encryption and has, until now, had a waiting list for signups, although more than 1 million ProtonMail accounts already exist.

MORE: Why You Need to Use Encrypted Email

ProtonMail was created by Yen and four other Harvard and MIT graduate students while Yen was working at CERN outside Geneva. Because of Switzerland's strong privacy laws, the company is still based and registered there.

Email encryption has been around for two decades, but was difficult to use until recently. ProtonMail simplifies the process, but the user must still enter two passwords — one to verify his or her identity, and the other to decrypt messages.

Users can send encrypted messages even to users of other email services, and can also send self-destructing messages. But if you're seeking anonymity, you'll have to figure that out yourself — even encrypted email messages can usually be tracked from the sender to the recipient.

The service operates on a freemium model. Free accounts are entitled to inboxes of up to 500 MB in capacity and 150 messages per day. Two paid plans, starting at $5 per month, add more storage, more messages and additional ProtonMail addresses. Interested users can sign up here.

"The best way to ensure that encryption and privacy rights are not encroached upon is to get the tools into the hands of the public as soon as possible and widely distributing them," Yen said. "This way, we put the choice in the hands of the consumer, and not government regulators."