Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

April 30, 2017

Your academic record is very impressive. In addition to a degree in Economics from Caltech, you have a PhD in Physics from Harvard and were a researcher at CERN for six years. This must have been fascinating, but how did a career studying particle physics lead you to starting a privacy-focused email service?

I understand that the study of particle physics gave you a great deal of experience in distributed computing. Did this have a significant influence on the design of ProtonMail as a secure email platform?

In your excellent TED talk, you say “there’s a new generation that is being taught from a very young age to share everything online, and this is a generation that is not going to remember when data was private.” You then go on to explain how ProtonMail can protect our privacy.

For people to even get to the point where they want to use a service such as ProtonMail to protect their privacy, however, they need to understand the value of privacy. What do you think is the best way to educate people that privacy is an issue worth caring about?

There is rising demand for a range of privacy services such as ProtonMail and VPNs. This has undoubtedly been fuelled by alarm at increasingly draconian government surveillance across the world, and growing awareness that governments have no intention of protecting their citizens from the rapacious commercial practices of internet companies and ISPs.

Do you think this grass-roots trend toward privacy might grow, or do you stand by your comment that “20 years from now, the word ‘privacy’ is going to have a completely different meaning from what it means to you and I”?

ProtonMail is very well-regarded within the privacy and online security community. This has led to much great anticipation for your upcoming VPN service. Other than your reputation, what does ProtonVPN bring to the table that existing VPN services do not?

One of ProtonMail’s prime selling points is that it is based in Switzerland, a country with famously strong privacy laws and which is not a member of any US-led spying alliance. In September last year, however, the Swiss public voted in favour of greatly expanded government surveillance powers. These include new powers to snoop on emails. Should ProtonMail and ProtonVPN users be worried?

ProtonMail pioneered a new wave of easy-to-use, end-to-end encrypted, webmail services. It is my understanding, however, that cryptography in browsers is implemented using JavaScript, and JavaScript cryptography in browsers is inherently insecure. This is likely an inherent limitation of any service that wishes to offer the convenience of webmail, but do you have any thoughts you would like to share on the matter?


What are your top tips for readers concerned about their general on-line privacy?


Other than ProtonVPN, are there any exciting new developments that you would like to share with us?