ProtonMail court order leads to the arrest of French climate activist

The private email service Protonmail is drawing harsh criticism from its users after providing IP information linked to a French activist who used the service, as first reported by TechCrunch.

The data was requested as part of a broader investigation into a group of climate activists who have occupied a number of apartments and commercial spaces in Paris. While the members of the group are anonymous, one had used the address “” in online postings. As a result, French police sought to identify any persons linked to the account.

Because ProtonMail is based in Switzerland, it is not subject to French or EU requests. But the company is still subject to requests from Swiss courts, where French police were able to lodge their request with the help of Europol. After Swiss courts approved the order, ProtonMail began logging IP information on the account, which was subsequently handed over to French police, leading to the activist’s identification and arrest.

In a post titled “Important clarifications regarding arrest of climate activist,” Proton CEO Andy Yen said he shared concern over the prosecution, and gave further detail on the legal issues that had forced the company to provide the data.

“Proton received a legally binding order from Swiss authorities which we are obligated to comply with. There was no possibility to appeal this particular request,” Yen wrote in the post. “The prosecution in this particular case was very aggressive. Unfortunately, this is a pattern we have increasingly seen in recent years around the world.”

Crucially, the order did not provide the contents of the activist’s email, which are encrypted and cannot be accessed by Proton. Yen said a similar order would also not be able to provide ProtonVPN metadata, as VPNs are subject to different requirements under Swiss law.

Still, the arrest is alarming for many users of ProtonMail, who had expected the service to have more robust protections against legal identification. Yen pledged to update the service’s public documentation to “better clarify ProtonMail’s obligations in cases of criminal prosecution.”

Proton’s own transparency report shows the alarming growth of Swiss court orders, including those served on behalf of foreign investigations. In 2020, Proton complied with over 3,000 data orders from Swiss courts, more than double the number served in the previous year.

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Rust EU servers begin to come back online following fire at French datacenter

It’s been a wild 24 hours or so for the developers behind Rust – Facepunch Studios – and the game’s European playerbase. Yesterday, Facepunch Studios published a post to Twitter in which it said it was aware that a number of its EU servers were down, telling us that the datacenter those servers are hosted at was looking into the issue. It turns out this was more than a mere outage, as the servers were down because of a fire at that datacenter.

The fire happened at one of the four Strasbourg, France-based datacenters owned by OVH Cloud. According to a statement from OVH Cloud, the fire destroyed its SBG2 datacenter, but luckily, no one was hurt in the blaze. However, that fire brought down 25 different Rust servers in the EU, with Facepunch saying that it was expecting a “large amount of data loss,” and that the lost data wouldn’t be able to be restored.

As the day went on, Facepunch has been slowly bringing those affected servers back online. In a series of tweets, the company has been announcing new batches of servers which are now online, but unfortunately, the company wasn’t able to restore the data it expected to lose.

In a follow-up tweet, Facepunch clarified what it meant when it was talking about lost data in earlier tweets. “For clarity: When we referred to ‘data’ in prior Tweets today the data lost in question was only player progression on 25 servers.” That’s a bit of good news in that the entire server wasn’t wiped, but still, players are going to have to start over when it comes to progression with their characters.

Still, it sounds like this fire could have been a whole lot worse, so it’s good news indeed that the only thing that was lost was the stuff stored in that datacenter. If you’re an EU Rust player, you might want to check the official Rust Twitter account to see if your server was affected and whether or not it’s now back online.

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