ProtonMail has scored a major legal victory against the Swiss government’s data retention laws, significantly increasing user privacy.
ProtonMail is one of the most secure and private email platforms in existence. The company is used by individuals around the world who value their privacy and want encrypted communication.
The company is based in Switzerland due to the country’s strong privacy laws, but that hasn’t stopped the government from forcing the company to turn over a user’s IP address to the authorities.
ProtonMail launched a legal challenge in May, in an effort to get email providers reclassified so they’re not subject to the same requirements as telecommunications firms.
As part of these efforts, in May 2020, we launched a legal challenge against the Swiss government over what we believe to be an improper attempt to use telecommunications laws to undermine privacy. In a ruling this week, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court confirmed that email services cannot be considered telecommunications providers, and consequently are not subject to the data retention requirements imposed on telecommunications providers.
The victory follows another legal challenge in April by Threema.
This comes on the heels of a Swiss Supreme Court ruling in April 2021 in a case brought by Threema (2C_544/2020) that ruled that instant messaging services are also not telecommunications providers. Together, these two rulings are a victory for privacy in Switzerland as many Swiss companies are now exempted from handing over certain user information in response to Swiss legal orders.
The legal victories are good news for ProtonMail users and privacy advocates, and will likely result in Switzerland attracting even more privacy-focused companies.