A Chinese language overview of Proton published in Taiwan can be found here: https://www.twreporter.org/a/protonmail-project
Last week, we stood in solidarity with citizens in the US against the reauthorization of the USA Freedom Act. Today we are standing in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong after the Chinese government announced a new security law designed to stifle free speech and peaceful protest.
When the government tried to do this previously — in 2003 and again in 2019 — Hong Kongers (including many Proton users) successfully defeated these measures by taking to the streets. This time it’s different.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no option to congregate in large groups. Moreover, the Chinese government is not working through Hong Kong’s legal system but rather from Beijing. The Chinese National People’s Congress is poised to approve the security law at its annual legislative session, which convened today (May 22).
With physical spaces out of reach, activists must now turn to digital spaces to speak out for democracy and civil liberties. Unfortunately, with the government monitoring all unsecured communications, it can be dangerous to organize and share ideas with others, particularly if the new security decree outlaws “sedition.”
We have previously stood by Hong Kong protesters, including providing encrypted email services for the developers of HKMaps and others. Proton is committed to defending their right to speak out, even when other tech companies take the side of repression and censorship. In fact, we launched Proton VPN specifically because we saw the need to help activists and journalists access our secure email service, Proton Mail, in case of censorship attempts.
Since then, we have consistently supported independent journalists through educational tools, seminars, scholarships, grants, and free services.
Now people are again turning to our privacy tools to defend freedom: As of Friday, Proton VPN is the third-most downloaded app in the Apple App Store in Hong Kong, and we have witnessed a 1,000% increase in the amount of traffic to our website.
Proton will continue to defend the right to free speech and privacy by making secure communication available to all who need it, whether in Hong Kong, or anywhere else in the world. Below we outline steps you can take to avoid government surveillance and maintain access to the uncensored Internet.
Use a VPN to secure your communications and online activity
A trustworthy VPN is still the best way to stay safe from government surveillance. China’s security law is expected to mirror the language of the 2003 basic law, which would have prohibited “any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion” against China. Obviously, authorities can use this type of broad language to eliminate political opponents and repress people exercising their right to free speech.
This is why it is imperative to encrypt your Internet connection and use secure methods of communication.
If you’re in Hong Kong, we recommend downloading Proton VPN for free as soon as possible.
- Download Proton VPN for your device. (Proton VPN is also available on F-Droid if you prefer not to use the Google Play Store.)
- Set up a free account in the app.
Users with a Free plan can connect to any of our free servers in Japan, the United States, and the Netherlands. By upgrading to a Plus plan, you can also access five servers in Hong Kong (including a Tor over VPN server), 32 servers in Singapore, and nearly 1,000 servers in over 50 countries around the world.
Our servers in Hong Kong could become the target of Chinese surveillance and censorship attempts. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we recommend Hong Kongers concerned about their security and privacy connect to our servers in Singapore. They are in the region, which reduces latency to a minimum.
Note: Your Internet service provider (and by extension the government) and the VPN service you use can still see that your IP address was used to connect to VPN, so it is important to pick a trustworthy VPN, that has strong values and integrity, even in the face of government pressure.
We say “as soon as possible” because authoritarian governments can and do take measures to block people from getting VPNs in the first place. Proton VPN has some systems in place to bypass these sorts of blocks, including our Alternative Routing feature. But authorities can still make it hard to download VPN apps after restrictions kick in. VPN services themselves, while more difficult to block, can also be blocked so it is good to also have Tor installed as a backup.
To install Tor, go to the Tor project website and download the Tor browser. In the event Chinese or Hong Kong authorities attempt to ban Tor, as a last resort you can use Tor Bridges to circumvent that censorship. Guides for using Tor Bridge can be found online here and here.
Use encrypted email for secure communication
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is considered the gold standard for secure communication. Proton Mail is the world’s largest private email provider offering this type of strong encryption. With E2EE, messages are only accessible on your device and the device of your recipient. Neither Proton Mail nor any other party monitoring the network can access your messages. Proton Mail, like Proton VPN, is based in Switzerland and therefore protected by some of the world’s strongest privacy and human rights laws.
Note: When using Proton Mail for very sensitive communications, we recommend that both the sender and the recipient use Proton Mail (it’s free). We also recommend putting the most sensitive information in the message body and not the subject line.
Here’s how to get started with Proton Mail and configure some basic extra security settings:
- Go to proton.me/mail and create an account.
- Download Proton Mail for iOS or Android.
- Enable two-factor authentication.
- If you use iOS, enable the AppKey Protection System by enabling PIN, TouchID, or FaceID.
As with Proton VPN, it is possible for Proton Mail itself to be blocked. For this, we offer our email service over Tor. Learn how to connect to our Tor hidden service.
We’ll continue to support the Proton community in Hong Kong and elsewhere. We are already monitoring the current usage levels of Proton VPN, and we will take actions as necessary to unblock servers and expand bandwidth.
We created Proton VPN and Proton Mail to defend fundamental rights: democracy, privacy, and freedom of speech. The citizens of Hong Kong deserve the same freedom to exercise these rights as anyone else in the world. Proton has an office in Taiwan so we feel great solidarity with our users in Hong Kong, and a duty to help uphold our shared values.
We’re grateful to our community for supporting Proton and our mission. We will keep supporting you too.
The Proton Team
You are confused. Privacy does not give you the right to conduct subversive activities against the security of the state. Get your priorities right.
Will Proton Community Help Me to Save this Planet from American GREED. I need All the Help that U can Give.
Peter, you’re absolutely right. Amazingly, it seems Proton has been taken over by the virtue-signaling woke mob. They are fine with Hong Kong, Catalonia or Palestine being terrorised and burned, so long as those who do the burning are their ‘democratic’ heroes. So much for Switzerland’s legendary neutrality.
What I wonder is how you will know, and how I might know, if your Hong Kong servers cease to be secure. My understanding is that China’s new law permits them to require access to any server and any network traffic on their territory.
Thanks. I’ve been most happy with your service to date.
Great article. However, you didn’t mention the badic and secure core servers which can make it substantially more challenging to monitor and censor VPN traffic. Please update this article and make it clearer when it comes to the threat model that a VPN can protect against and the Secure Core. These aspects are crucial for journalists and people looking to protect their freedoms online. https://protonvpn.com/blog/threat-model/ https://protonvpn.com/support/secure-core-vpn/ Thank you.
At least black people can say “I can’t breathe”, white drunken homeless can’t even say a word when Anglo America’s capitalist regime sends firing squads to summarily execute them in the streets.
Don’t want to spam this forum, but if you’re curious, search for “White Homeless Man Executed By Four Police Officers At Bus Stop” and you’ll know the case of Roger Schafer.
Ah, “The land of the free and the home of the brave” that western companies consider so liberty and human rights friendly, not like evil Cuba, Iran, China… which represses those nice guys that “just” want Hong Kong to keep being a western capitalist colony -did anyone see flags of Hong Kong in the protests? I just saw american and british ones… Any doubt about who pulls the strings?-.
Do you remember those neo-nazis in Ukraine demanding “freedom” few years ago, or those conservative snipers shooting workers and students in Caracas “for freedom and democracy”?
There’s that rumor about Protonmail/VPN being controlled by the US gov. Maybe it’s just “conspiranoic” but since I haven’t read anything supporting the natives in the invaded territories of Palestine, or the old spanish Sahara people, invaded by the good friend of the USA, Morocco, or the kurds oppressed and prosecuted by Turkey, nor any other movement which isn’t suspiciously favorable to the capitalist west and its interests, I thin Protonmail/VPN must be put under suspect.
Ok, I don’t know why I’ve taken the time to write this reply. Surely the forum’s admins will censor it and you’ll never read it, LOL. Bah. Whatever…
Well, I admit that there are loopholes in certain actions of the Chinese government, but mobs in Hong Kong, China, destroyed public buildings and injured innocent civilians in Hong Kong, China. You call this “peaceful protest”. I don’t think you need to make money like this! ! ! Subvert my understanding of your products！
Free Hong Kong
Revolution of the time
Thanks for your support ❤️❤️❤️ with the Hongkongers who would like to stand up for the values in term of humanity.
Human being are born should be free, free being honest, free being from any suppression!
Free means free!
Thank you so much.
Dear Proton AG: It is great that you are helping Hong Kongers’ struggle for free expression. You adding OpenVPN to all of the major platforms, especially mobile platforms, came just in time, because the Chinese government can easily block IKEv2, because it uses UDP, whereas, as you know, OpenVPN is much more difficult to block.
However, there is a more important issue about one of the links that you recommend, supra, for instructions on how to configure TOR bridges. The United States’ DOJ and the EU have siezed https://www.deepdotweb.com/2016/12/21/pluggable-transports-tor-dodging-censorship/, as a malware sight. So you might want to reconsider recommending it to your readers as a place to get instructions for configuring TOR bridges.
In any event, law enforcement has seized the https://www.deepdotweb.com website so you cannot reach it in any event. There may also be some concern that the DOJ seized deepdotweb.com for concerns that are even more serious than malware. The U.S Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania was the U.S. Attorney who seized deepdotweb.com, and though that U.S. Attorney is the office that often seizes malware website, it also acts against websites operating in the U.S. that are foreign espionage websites, for example, seizing deepdotweb.com if it were a foreign government’s website that facilitated downloading apps or plugins that allowed that government to spy on users, who tried to configure TOR bridges.
Freedom and privacy are fundamental human rights. Why not for Palestine?
Tell the israel gov’t that their oppression of pakestine and the Palestinian people violates their fundamental human rights of freedom and privacy. Palestinian people have no freedom and privacy from israel. Palestinian people ‘live’ like prisoners in a supermax prison with israel the prison guards. Support Palestine. Stand with Palestine against an aggressor and oppressor, such as israel. Voice your support, say NO more to israel stealing more land from Palestine in the name of ‘annexation’.
Really sucks. Do you know Hk belongs to China? To be frank, You only want to make money by political issues, with ignoring the mob’s atrocities. Can the mob’s behavior represent human rights? You just made selective views that were beneficial to you. Maybe this is the common busniess strategy of American capitalism, just pay more attention to your black people resistance movement,ok? They can’t breathe.
Thank you for standing with the people in HonG Kong
It is really touching to have your support in such a hard time. I start to have VPN you wrote after the law have implemented. When it is sad, the world show me a window. As a Hong Kongers, thanks for ProtonVPN team. You guys are professional and trust worthy.
Fight for freedom,
Stand with Hong Kong.
Freedom and privacy are fundamental human rights. Creating tools that could defend them was the motivation to start Proton in the first place.
i am a hong kie but i now base in london may i ask which country should i choose ? singapore ? and is that shown as connected with an icon of VPN shown in my mobile that works ? thanks !
Thank you for standing with Hong Kong People.
No need to thank us Samuel, Hong Kongers should have the ability to exercise their fundamental human rights, same as anyone else. We developed Proton to help people in precisely this situation. We will always stand on the side of freedom and privacy.
Thank you so much
We love All Taiwan
Fight for freedom
Stand with HongKong
Thank you for your support for HK.
Thanks for supporting Hongkongers!
Stand with HK
Thanks for supporting HongKonger
Thanks for supporting HK democracy , China government is such a devil!
The free ProtonVPN plan is the only free VPN that does not run privacy-invading ads, throttle your bandwidth, or sell your data to third parties.
Thanks for allowing us to have a free VPN. I am a Hong Kong citizen, but I am studying abroad in Australia now. I am worried about if I go back to Hong Kong without a good VPN so that I cannot use a secure website for my school or social media. Am I able to get free VPN to meet My need, please? If you do so, it will be appreciated. Thankfulness.
Thank you, Niki! Yes, you can download ProtonVPN for free here: https://protonvpn.com/download
Disgusting. You call a riot that killed innocent people a “peaceful protest”? You’re a company that publicly and explicitly backs up anti-humanity activities.
Hi Jeff, we do not condone violence, and we never said we do. Proton’s mission is simple: expand access to privacy, security, and freedom. We support the right to freely and peacefully express ideas.
Thank you ProtonVPN for the support HK freedom!
fight for freedom stand with hong kong
free hong kong
Five demands, not one less
It is a message from Hong Konger
Thank you so much for your kindly help
May the light be with you 願榮光與你同在
safe life always give to nice people 好人一生平安
I wish you and your company will have a great development and without any troubles 😊
I really appreciate that your compay support our hong kong citizens.
To Proton VPN :
Thank you very much for supporting Hong Kong,I will definitely share this useful VPN apps to my family and friends.
THANKS A LOT
from a little hong konger
We’re appreciated your great help in this critical moment.
Thank you very much for standing with us. I bought the 2yrs Plus plan yesterday, and I’m so proud to be a Proton customer.
Thank you, Shieky!
Thank you for providing excellent VPN sevices and standing with Hong Kong. We truly appreciate it and we will continue to fight for our rights.
“a new security law designed to stifle free speech and peaceful protest.” Have you ever at least tried to have a look at the law before making such statement, Mr Journalist? Always a big fan and paid user of ProtonMail, I am just so disappointed. Yes I strongly believe that privacy is important but making such misleading and irresponsible statement like this with your own imagination, you just let me down ProtonMail.
Vamos dizer, assim. Nosso PROTONMAIL. COM e nossa PROTONMAILVPN formam a dupla de nós INSEPARÁVEL:
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