Let’s just start by saying that this is not a political post, but simply a report on facts. If you don’t follow world politics, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of US and to say he has been a controversial figure would be an understatement.
Many Americans don’t seem very content with the election results and that has been made quite clear via protests and stuff. But surprisingly, or not surprisingly, there is now news regarding a 100% increase in use of email encryption services.
Now as to why at the start I said this is not a political post, is because the source of this story are those perennially neutral types in Switzerland, so at the very least a political angle to the story seems out of the question.
Yen, co-founder of ProtonMail, reports that in the two days since Donald Trump’s victory, the Switzerland-based encrypted email service has seen its number of new users increase by double:
“Since Trump’s victory, the number of new users coming to ProtonMail has doubled compared to the previous week. Many of our new users have voiced a few common concerns both on Twitter and also in emails to us. Given Trump’s campaign rhetoric against journalists, political enemies, immigrants, and Muslims, there is concern that Trump could use the new tools at his disposal to target certain groups. As the NSA currently operates completely out of the public eye with very little legal oversight, all of this could be done in secret.”
ProtonMail is an encrypted-email service which uses client-side encryption to protect email contents and user data before they are sent to ProtonMail servers. Messages are encrypted at all times and are also transmitted in encrypted format between the company’s servers and user devices. According to them, the surge of interest likely comes from Democrats wary of a Trump-controlled NSA. However, they also state that it would be naive to view the desire for end-to-end encrypted email as purely a battle between the political left and right:
“ProtonMail users have always come from both the left and right side of the political spectrum. Today, we are seeing an influx of liberal users, but ProtonMail has also long been popular with the political right, who were truly worried about big government spying, and the Obama administration having access to their communications. Now the tables have turned.”
ProtonMail is right. The revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have laid bare the truth about what intelligence agencies were doing to spy on companies and individuals, without proper oversight by government, and without the knowledge of the public.
And as so many of the Internet services we rely upon every day are based in the United States, a new President is something that potentially impacts the privacy of all of us around the world. Regardless of who wins or loses, or which side you are on, encryption is something we should all take seriously.