Want Real Email Privacy? Try One of These Alternatives

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There are many free and paid email services to choose from. The most popular are Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo, but there are many more to choose from depending on your needs.

The down side, as we now all know, is that those popular email services capture and catalogue your emails and resell the contents to advertisers related to the content in your email.

Even worse, if you use your email address to automatically sign in to other online services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, you’ve given those other services permission to capture your email content and sell it for their own benefit as well.

Gmail even keeps track of items you buy online and keeps a history of them. Your purchase history is generated from the receipts online retailers email to your Gmail account. If you bought from Amazon, they know it. If you bought from Papa John’s, Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy or any other retailer or service provider, they know it and have copies of the receipts. Even if you subscribed to a paid online magazine or porn site, they have your receipts.

While Gmail, via Google and its myriad services, is considered the worst of the privacy invaders, the others aren’t far behind. And … they’re all free to use.

But not really.

Because you are giving up your personal information as the cost of using those free email services. When you give away your privacy to others, and they sell it to make profit, then YOU are the product, not the email service. YOU are being sold to the highest bidder.

The loss of your privacy is the price you pay for allowing your personal information to be captured and sold to others. And while you may simply say, “Why should I care? I’ve got nothing to hide,” you are missing the point. It’s your privacy you’ve lost along with anything of a personal nature you’ve shared through email. And while most people acknowledge they are aware of this practice, and are somewhat concerned about it, very few know how to get around it.

Here are four privacy oriented email providers that actually protect your privacy. They don’t keep logs, they don’t sell your personal information, and they don’t capture and catalogue your email contents, nothing like that at all.

If you don’t want your email provider, its partners, or even hackers skimming your messages, choose one of these providers, which offer end-to-end encryption and other measures.

ProtonMail

ProtonMail is one of the best-known alternative email providers. ProtonMail debuted in 2014 after the Edward Snowden revelations. The company is based in Switzerland and prides itself on declaring that no one can read your emails—not even ProtonMail. This is because ProtonMail offers strong end-to-end encryption for email and even stores all messages and attachments in an encrypted format while they sit on the company’s servers.

Anyone can sign up for a free account, but it’s limited to 500 MB worth of emails. Paid plans start at $5 a month for 5 GB, and go up to $30 a month for a 20 GB plan. But seriously, I don’t know anyone who has multiple gigabytes of data stored in their email, do you? The outstanding free plan suits my needs.

As a disclaimer, while it’s not my daily email provider, I personally use ProtonMail for the times when I need to exchange encrypted email with another person or company. They also have an excellent tested and verified VPN to add an additional layer of protection when I need it.

Tutanota

If you’re looking for more email privacy than ProtonMail offers, Tutanota is a great solution. The company is based in Germany and run by a group of privacy enthusiasts. As a matter of fact, Tutanota values privacy so much you can even sign up for an account without handing over your phone number for verification.

Like ProtonMail, your Tutanota email is end-to-end encrypted so not even the company can read it. The downside about Tutanota is that its email can’t be used with third-party email clients like Outlook. That’s because Tutanota uses its own proprietary encryption. While that means it can offer iron-clad privacy, it also means its emails can’t be read by clients that rely on common industry-standard protocols.

Tutanota offers a free email service with 1 GB of storage, with 10 GB plans costing about $27 and 100 GB plans costing about $132.

Posteo

Also based in Germany, Posteo has been around for a decade and also offers end-to-end encryption on your emails. However, Posteo takes user privacy to the next level. It automatically strips the headers and IP addresses from emails, so anyone monitoring your email traffic can’t see the location from which you are sending your email—nor the location from where the emails you receive are being sent.

But Posteo goes even further. It allows you to pay for an email account in the normal ways: credit or debit card or even via PayPal. However, you can also send cash in the mail, which ensures your email account leaves no digital trail to you. While this option is probably only needed by journalists and activists working in countries run by oppressive governments, it goes to show just how seriously Posteo takes your privacy.

Posteo doesn’t have a free account, but its entry-level plan gets you 2 GB of email storage for about $1.10. If you need more email storage, you can add an additional gigabyte for about 27 cents a month, up to a maximum of 20 GB.

Runbox

Finally, if you are one of those people who care about your privacy and the environment, you should take a serious look at Runbox. The company is based in Norway, a country that has constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights. Furthermore, Runbox has been around since 2000, meaning it has a long track record of providing reliable service.

Like others in this article, Runbox provides end-to-end encryption of all your emails, meaning no one but you can read them. It also accepts cryptocurrency and cash payments for its services, and their email works with your standard email clients on mobile and desktop.

But the unique thing about Runbox is that its data centers in Norway run on only clean, renewable, hydropower energy, letting you protect your privacy and the earth at the same time. The downside is Runbox doesn’t offer a free email tier—but it does offer a 30-day trial. If you like the privacy and are into environmental protection, you’ll pay an annual rate ranging from $20 for 1 GB of email storage to $80 for 25 GB of email storage.

Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!

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