Today, March 12, is World Day Against Cyber-censorship and Amnesty International has determined that in 2016, 55 countries practicing cyber-censorship have arrested people for peaceful expression in online email and social media exchanges.

ProtonMail uses a Swiss-based email server.

To be really secure online as a journalist means protecting your sources - your reporter reserves the username Hildyjohnson for whistleblowers. While anyone can encrypt emails, most people don’t bother and in any case, government investigators can learn a lot just from traffic analysis so the location of your email system’s server is critical.

For example, if your email system uses servers based in Russia or China you can be pretty certain that someone from the government would be able to access everything on the server with little difficulty

In the US, the United Kingdom, or other democratic countries it is a little more difficult to access your emails but all it takes is a court order for police agencies to gain access to your emails on the company’s server in that country. Reuters has already reported that in 2016 Yahoo scanned all @yahoo emails under a secret court order for US security services.

ProtonMail is not only encrypted, it is also physically located in Switzerland, a country which takes privacy very seriously, therefore the server is immune from almost any court order.

Beyond that, the emails on the server are encrypted using the system developed by scientists at CERN, and even Protonmail itself doesn’t store have a record of your decryption key so it can't be compelled to decrypt your messages.

Today 2 million people in 150 countries use ProtonMail (which is free at the most basic service level) and many of them are journalists such as your reporter.

Cyber-censorship is on the rise.

As Amnesty International points out, even mass surveillance of communications is a form of censorship since people will avoid sending anything confidential over the Internet if they know it is being monitored.

Even countries not normally thought of as censoring the Internet as China does, are actively censoring access to thousands of websites.

Turkey, for example, blocks access to more than 50,000 IP addresses (web pages) while another United States ally, Saudi Arabia, blocks nearly a half-million Internet sites.

China’s Great Firewall is well known and currently restricts access to emails, news, social media, and other Internet resources to the country’s 800 million citizens. For example, it is unlikely you could read even this innocuous news story if you were in China.