In 2014, ProtonMail became the world’s first email service to make end-to-end encrypted emails accessible to anyone in the world at a click of a button, in contrast to other email providers such as Gmail and Hotmail. Its servers are located in Switzerland, outside of US and EU jurisdiction. The founding team met at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, where Andy Yen, co-founder and CEO of Proton Technologies AG, was a researcher from 2009 to 2015. The team combines deep mathematical and technical knowledge from the world's top research institutions with expertise in end-to-end encryption. The company’s vision is to build an internet that respects privacy and is secure against cyber-attacks.
Swiss security and privacy
The young and successful tech company is headquartered in Switzerland for various reasons. ProtonMail is hosted in a former military command center deep inside the Swiss Alps, thus providing maximum physical security for its clients’ data. Furthermore, Switzerland applies a very different set of (stricter) privacy laws since it is outside of US and EU jurisdiction. Nearly every country in the world has laws governing lawful interception of electronic communications. In Switzerland, the laws governing electronic communications are set out in the Swiss Federal Act on the Surveillance of Postal and Telecommunications Traffic (SPTT), last revised in 2012. In the SPTT, the obligation to provide the technical means for lawful interception is imposed only on Internet access providers, so ProtonMail, as a mere Internet application provider, is completely exempt from the SPTT’s scope of application. As a Swiss company, ProtonMail cannot be compelled to engage in bulk surveillance on behalf of US intelligence agencies, for example.
"We believe that comprehensive security can only be achieved through a combination of technology and legal protection and Switzerland provides the optimal combination of both. By coupling the country’s advanced IT infrastructure with its unique legal environment, ProtonMail can deliver a service that is both reliable and secure," states the company on their website (Why Switzerland?).
Top tier talent from around the world
“Switzerland further benefits from a highly international environment, which made it possible for us to attract top tier talent from around the word” – an essential factor for the company’s success, as highlighted by Andy Yen.
Switzerland provides a unique business environment due to its long tradition of neutrality. Being based here allows us to be a trusted partner for enterprises all around the world, opening up many business opportunities.