Web creator Tim Berners-Lee joins ProtonMail's advisory board

The Berners-Lee addition comes after the company received flak for its handling of one of its users' IP addresses.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has joined the advisory board of hosted email service provider ProtonMail.

In a statement, ProtonMail CEO and founder Andy Yen said the addition of Berners-Lee to the company's advisory board was aligned with its goal to "create an internet where people are in control of their information at all times".

"Our vision is to build an internet where privacy is the default by creating an ecosystem of services accessible to everyone, everywhere, every day," Yen said.

Yen said the company already had a past relationship with Berners-Lee, explaining that the idea of ProtonMail was initially conceived at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where the World Wide Web was created.

The addition of Berners-Lee comes almost immediately after ProtonMail received flak for giving a climate activist's IP address to French authorities to comply with a Swiss court order. 

Addressing the logging of the IP address in a blog post earlier this week, Yen said all companies have to comply with laws, such as court orders, if they operate within 15 miles of land.

"No matter what service you use, unless it is based 15 miles offshore in international waters, the company will have to comply with the law," Yen said.

Since the incident, ProtonMail has changed its privacy policy to state that the company can be "legally compelled to log IP addresses as part of a Swiss criminal investigation".

Previously, the company's website said that, by default, it did not keep any IP logs that could be linked to an anonymous email account. In making the change, ProtonMail apologised for its previous wording and said it clarified ProtonMail's obligations.

ProtonMail currently has 50 million users.


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