Security

Proton welcomes Sir Tim Berners-Lee to its advisory board – as ProtonMail suffers a privacy backlash

'I am a firm supporter of privacy,' Sir Tim declares - even as the service is lambasted over IP logging


Privacy-centric communications specialist Proton, best known for its ProtonMail encrypted email platform, has announced the appointment of web daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee to its advisory board.

Founded in Geneva in 2013, ProtonMail - the core product of Proton Technologies AG, which branched out into virtual private networking with the release of ProtonVPN in 2017 - is designed for privacy. All email content is encrypted at the client side, blocking the company itself from accessing it, and the servers are accessible over the Tor network for increased privacy.

Now, the company boasts a new member: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, best known for his work in creating the World Wide Web following a proposal to merge Hypertext with the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Domain Name System (DNS) in 1989.

"I'm delighted to join Proton’s advisory board and support Proton on their journey," Sir Tim said of the appointment. "I am a firm supporter of privacy, and Proton’s values to give people control of their data are closely aligned to my vision of the web at its full potential."

"Having Sir Tim join our advisory board is a nod to our shared past at CERN, where we conceived the initial idea for ProtonMail, and our future," added Andy Yen, Proton's chief exec. "When Sir Tim invented the World Wide Web, he created a new medium through which people could connect with each other. It changed the world.

"We have a similarly audacious goal: we want to create an internet where people are in control of their information at all times. This makes Sir Tim uniquely suited to understanding Proton and advising us as we try to realise this ambitious vision."

Proton could certainly use a little advice right now: the company has found itself at the centre of a storm of criticism after it provided a user's IP address to Swiss authorities - data which, until after the news broke, it had claimed it did not log and which led to the arrest of a left-wing activist in France.

Sir Tim's appointment at Proton isn't his only attempt to boost privacy on the web, either: in 2018 he unveiled Solid, an effort to put users back in control of their own personal data - and to wrest it away from the clutches of internet giants like Facebook, Google, and Apple.

Sir Tim could not be reached for comment on his plans at Proton in time for publication. ®

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