Government to block ProtonMail after bomb threat: Company responds to India |

The IT ministry has reportedly decided to issue an order blocking end-to-end encrypted email service ProtonMail. According to a report in Hindustan Times, the government is planning to block the email service at the request of the Tamil Nadu police over a hoax bomb threat sent to at least thirteen private schools in Chennai on February 8. The report says that the decision to blocks ProtonMail was taken at a meeting of the 69A blocking committee on Wednesday (February 14).
A Proton spokesperson told the publication that the company has received the request from MeitY “a few days ago”. “We are currently working to resolve this situation and are investigating how we can best work together with the Indian authorities to do so. We understand the urgency of the situation and are completely clear that our services are not to be used for illegal purposes. We regularly remove users who are found to be doing so and are willing to cooperate wherever possible within international cooperation agreements,” the spokesperson said.
What is Section 69A of the IT Act
Under Section 69A of the IT Act, the designated officer, on approval by the IT Secretary and at the recommendation of the 69A blocking committee, can issue orders to any intermediary or a government agency to block any content on grounds of national security, public order and similar reasons. This is the same Act under which all Chinese apps including TikTok and over 200 other apps were banned.
App available on Google and Apple app stores for now
TOI Tech checked and as of now ProtonMail app is available on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
ProtonMail acknowledged that it has received possible ‘ban orders’
According to the report, the final order to block the website has not yet been sent to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) but the MeitY has flagged the issue with the DoT. In an emailed response to HT, Proton acknowledged that it had received notice from MeitY.
What ProtonMail said on the ban
In an emailed response to HT, Proton acknowledged that it had received notice from MeitY about “a possible block”. “We condemn a potential block as a misguided measure that only serves to harm ordinary people. Blocking access to Proton is an ineffective and inappropriate response to the reported threats. “It will not prevent cybercriminals from sending threats with another email service and will not be effective if the perpetrators are located outside of India,” the company said.
ProtonMail: Cannot answer to Indian government
It also reportedly said that under Swiss law, “Proton cannot answer directly to foreign law enforcement authorities” but “Swiss authorities may assist foreign authorities with requests, provided they are valid under international assistance procedures and determined to be in compliance with Swiss law”.