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MIT and CERN's secure webmail plan stumped by PayPal freeze

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The Proton Mail project, which offers end-to-end encrypted webmail from the user's browser, has had a stick thrust into its operational spokes courtesy of PayPal.

The MIT-and-CERN-inspired project, based on Switzerland, had decided against VC funding for reasons of credibility among users. Instead, it relies on users willing to fork out US$5 for 1 GB of stored mail, and was running a crowd-funding campaign – and that means it depends on payment processing.

That's where PayPal has gotten in the way. According to this post, PayPal has frozen Proton Mail's account without warning: “No attempt was made by PayPal to contact us before freezing our account, and no notice was given”, the post states.

That has put some of the US$280,000 committed to the Indiegogo campaign in limbo, the post says, and so far PayPal hasn't explained what's going on.

“When we pressed the PayPal representative on the phone for further details, he questioned whether ProtonMail is legal and if we have government approval to encrypt emails,” author Andy Yen claims.

Direct credit card commitments and Bitcoin are still accepted by Proton Mail, Yen says.

As reported by Vulture South in May, as well as browser-window encryption of messages, Proton Mail doesn't log user activity, meaning it doesn't keep user metadata or IP addresses. Supported implementations include AES, RSA and OpenPGP, and the organisation says all disks in its Swiss data centres are encrypted. ®

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