The company behind the encrypted email service ProtonMail is now offering the general public a free VPN to fight back against government surveillance and online spying.
Following a round of testing, on Tuesday, Proton Technologies said that ProtonVPN is now available and officially out of beta.
The new virtual private network (VPN) has taken over a year to develop, but expanding the dreams of the CERN and MIT scientists who founded the encrypted email service ProtonMail, it will be free for all.
"When considering the scope of all that we do online, email is just a small piece of the online world," ProtonMail says. "That's why we have decided to build ProtonVPN, to better protect the activists, journalists, and individuals who are currently using ProtonMail to secure their online lives."
Most VPNs require users to sign up for a paid subscription service, available on monthly to yearly packages, but they may also offer a free trial which includes data caps or limits the countries you are able to connect to when masking your online traffic and activities.
In the US, rules implemented in the time of former President Barack Obama were rolled back last year, and in the UK, current Prime Minister Theresa May is continuing her crusade for wider online surveillance and encryption breakers -- putting her on a direct collision course with the EU which wants to legally enforce end-to-end encryption.
"While the Internet has done a great deal of good, over the course of this digital revolution, we have also lost control over our data, our most intimate secrets, and ultimately our privacy," the firm says. "In certain countries, the Internet has even become a tool for oppression and control, instead of the beacon of hope and freedom it once was."
The ProtonMail team has also taken a swipe at Google and Facebook, claiming the firms "abuse user privacy to sell advertisements," and claims ProtonMail "is committed to building and operating ProtonVPN with the same level of transparency that has come to characterize ProtonMail."
ProtonVPN enforces the same limitations as many other VPNs, however. Subscriptions are available, ranging from $4 to $24 a month, with varying caps on device support, speeds, and access to Tor services.
If you're interested in the free service, you can set the VPN to a total of three countries on one device, the speed will be "low," and access to ProtonMail's Secure Core -- which routes connections to further protect them from compromise -- is not available.
So, you may ask, what makes ProtonVPN any different to the countless other VPN options on the market? According to the company, they have taken pains to create the "best VPN service ever" by eradicating many of the "pitfalls" of modern VPNs -- such as vulnerability to network attacks -- and for some options, seamless integration with the Tor network is also a bonus.
The team also needs to offer a free VPN service for the same reason so many others do -- if a user is able to test, enjoy, and become attached to a VPN, they are more likely to upgrade to a paid account to cover operating expenses.
You can sign up for the service here.