How Apple uses anti-competitive practices to extort developers and support authoritarian regimes

Illustration of the Apple monopoly

Last week, the European Commission announced, in response to a complaint filed by Spotify, that it would be opening an investigation into Apple’s App Store practices, which potentially constitutes an illegal breach of EU competition laws. At Proton, we applaud this decision, and also Spotify’s bravery in bringing this complaint in the first place. 

Following years of advertising itself as a company that puts users first, Apple has increasingly aligned itself with oppressive governments and curtailed digital freedom. There was a time when Apple portrayed itself as a rebellious alternative to giants like Microsoft. Today, Apple has become a monopoly, crushing potential competitors with exploitative fees and conducting censorship on behalf of dictators.

Latest: Four misleading claims Big Tech CEOs told Congress

American tech giants have long engaged in abusive behavior which is designed to stifle dissent and competition, and perpetuate their market dominance. We know this because we have quietly tolerated this exploitation for years. And like many others, we have long hesitated to speak out for fear that these tech giants may abuse their market dominance to destroy all who dare to stand up against them. 

However, we believe we can no longer in good conscience stay silent, and the recent and ongoing antitrust investigations against Apple in the United States and Europe help to validate our position. We have come to believe Apple has created a dangerous new normal allowing it to abuse its monopoly power through punitive fees and censorship that stifles technological progress, creative freedom, and human rights. Even worse, it has created a precedent that encourages other tech monopolies to engage in the same abuses. 

Apple is using its monopoly to hold all of us hostage

Apple’s iOS controls 25% of the global smartphone market (the other 75%, is largely controlled by Google’s Android). This means that for over a billion people (particularly in the US where their market share approaches 50%), the only way to install apps is through the App Store. This gives Apple enormous influence over the way software is created and consumed around the world.

Perhaps the most harmful expression of this power is Apple’s exorbitant 30% tax on developers, which is now the subject of antitrust investigations in both the United States and the European Union. To be clear, this is an enormous fee and would be intolerable in normal market conditions, but it’s particularly damaging if you offer a product that competes with Apple. It is hard to stay competitive if you are forced to pay your competitor 30% of all of your earnings. 

Apple attempts to justify these fees by arguing that the App Store is no different from a mall, where companies seeking to offer their products must pay rent to the owner of the mall (in this case, Apple). This argument conveniently ignores the fact that there is just a single mall when it comes to iOS and no possibility of a competing mall to rent space from. It is not illegal for Apple to own a mall and rent space, nor is it illegal for Apple to own the only mall. What is illegal, is exploiting the fact that it owns the only mall to charge excessively high pricing which harms competitors. 

This is virtually indistinguishable from a protection racket: It is a fee that developers must pay if they want to stay in business. And it is a fee which ultimately harms consumers because these fees are indirectly passed on to users, either through higher prices, or through fewer competing products in the marketplace. 

After the European Commission launched its investigation on June 16, Apple released a statement saying “the European Commission is advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride.”

This comment reveals the callousness with which Apple has hijacked and strangled the creativity that once flourished on the Internet. If only a handful of the most powerful companies have complained (such as Spotify), it is because Apple’s market dominance leaves small developers powerless to object: Either fall in line or be removed from the App Store, with no possibility to appeal. 

Apple has now even gone so far as to ban apps from the App Store if they refuse to offer in-app purchases for paid features that are available for purchase elsewhere. In other words, Apple wants a nearly one-third cut of your sales, regardless of whether you want to sell on their platform or not. This was precisely what happened with Proton.

As we know from any mafia trial, the absence of witnesses willing to take the stand does not imply there was no crime, it only serves to highlight the power of the accused. By taking the stand today, we want to clearly refute Apple’s claim that only a “handful of companies” are objecting to these practices.

Apple helps propagate authoritarian laws globally

While it is improper (and illegal) to leverage market dominance for anti-competitive purposes, leveraging this power to suppress digital freedom is simply unethical, and it is long overdue that somebody called out Apple for this behavior. As first-hand witnesses to this behavior, we can share our story. 

In January 2020, ProtonVPN submitted an update of its iOS app description in the App Store. The new description highlighted ProtonVPN’s features, including the ability to “unblock censored websites” with the app. 

Even though ProtonVPN had been in the App Store since 2018 and the basic functionality of our VPN has not changed, Apple abruptly rejected the new app version and threatened to remove ProtonVPN entirely. They demanded that we remove this language around anti-censorship on the grounds that freedom of speech is severely limited in some countries. The options are comply or be removed from the App Store. What is most troubling is that Apple requested the removal of the language around censorship in ALL countries where our app is available, in effect doing the bidding of authoritarian governments even in countries where freedom of speech is protected.

It is true that in countries around the world, such as China, South Sudan, and Saudi Arabia, freedom of speech is indeed severely limited, and thousands of activists have been killed or imprisoned for expressing themselves. However, by conceding to tyrants and enforcing the lowest common denominator, Apple is ignoring internationally recognized human rights and forfeiting progress we all enjoy and which activists have paid for with their lives.

One of the biggest threats to democracy and freedom in the 21st century is Internet censorship, and in this regard VPNs are one of the best tools available to empower people with access to independent sources of accurate information. The free flow of ideas — along with the right to keep your ideas private — is one of the first principles of democracy. 

Related: Why antitrust is really about privacy

This is apparently a principle that Apple no longer believes in. For example, Apple willingly complies with Chinese laws that restrict users’ access to thousands of apps and that require foreign companies to store the data of its citizens within the country and make them available to authorities. Even Google has gone further to resist such Chinese pressure.

What we find unacceptable, however, is that Apple is using its market dominance to also force other companies which might otherwise be willing to make a stand to also be complicit in human rights abuses. This extends beyond limiting our ability to fight against censorship with our app. 

In China, Apple has censored news platforms such as The New York Times and Bloomberg News, while in Hong Kong it blocked the access to the HKMaps app that supported the local democracy protests. It has also agreed to delete dozens of apps, including podcasts, that China says violate local censorship laws. 

As part of Proton’s mission to make privacy and digital freedom universally accessible, we developed ProtonVPN, the world’s first free and unlimited VPN service that does not track or log users’ activity. We are on the front lines of the global fight for freedom and recently ranked third in the Hong Kong App Store during the Hong Kong freedom protests. By censoring ProtonVPN’s app description in order to comply with authoritarian government requests, Apple is making it incrementally more difficult for people to exercise their fundamental human rights and sending a clear signal that profits come before people. 

With great power (and profits) comes great responsibility

Despite its own portrayal as a paragon of human rights, the instances where Apple has proven itself as a defender of these rights have become rarer in recent years. The level of compromise it is willing to make on freedom of speech has startled even its own investors — the number of shareholders demanding the company uphold basic human rights has been increasing.

Last year, Apple reported record profits of $55 billion, making it the world’s most profitable tech company. We do not object to Apple making money, and they are entitled to try to make as much money as possible. However, like any company, Apple must also follow the law, including competition laws, and on this point, we strongly support and endorse the EU’s move to hold Apple accountable. 

We also believe that tech companies, particularly those with $55 billion in profits, have a minimum moral responsibility to uphold human rights, even if it is not legally enforceable. It is however, enforceable by us, as consumers. By choosing who we give money to, we signal what we consider to be an acceptable minimum moral responsibility.

We hope that by taking a stand today, we can also embolden others to speak out and work towards creating a more equitable, free, and just society. Are you also a victim of Apple’s abusive practices? Let us know at legal@protonmail.com.

Best Regards,
The Proton Team

You can get a free secure email account from ProtonMail here.

We also provide a free VPN service to protect your privacy. ProtonMail and ProtonVPN are funded by community contributions. If you would like to support our development efforts, you can upgrade to a paid plan. Thank you for your support.

About the Author

Andy Yen

Andy is the Founder and CEO of ProtonMail. Originally from Taiwan, he is a long time advocate of privacy rights and has spoken at TED, SXSW, and the Asian Investigative Journalism Conference about online privacy issues. Previously, Andy was a research scientist at CERN and received his PhD in Particle Physics from Harvard University. You can watch his TED talk online to learn more about ProtonMail's mission.

 

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121 comments on “How Apple uses anti-competitive practices to extort developers and support authoritarian regimes

  • Apple – yuck.

    Apple is a colorful overlay that supports throat-ripping tyrants. Apple hopes the public only focuses on the bright colors.

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  • I have never been more proud to be a customer and supporter of a company than I am now! Thank you for helping the world be more free!

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  • Here here. Apple is absolutely no better than Microsoft, Google, or any other giant tech company. All of them violate basic rights, often laws, and do not get punished for it with any significant means.

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  • Exceptional post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  • I thought Apple was above this type of behavior, but I guess not. Naive of me. What are some possible comparable replacements if I no longer wish to support a company who engages in this behavior? Android is a hard pill for me to swallow because…well, Google is terrible all around. Any recommendations?

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  • The other problem with monopolistic American corporate entities like Apple and Google is that they love and aim to please one country above all others: China (to be fair they have lots of company: the NBA, the Democratic Party, etc.). It’s hard for China’s Communist Party to directly confront the USA so they attack smaller weaker countries that have “distanced” themselves from the USA (because blah blah blah Donald Trump or whatever). Two Canadians are being held in indefinite detention in China and will be tried & convicted for espionage. A third Canadian was forced to renounce her citizenship. Canada’s elite, much like Apple, is urging capitulation. Uighurs and Hong Kong democracy activists are subject to arbitrary detention. Apple (and Google) believe it is best to appease the totalitarian fascistic central committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Ironically once their own executives and business partners are detained without trial in secretive prisons Apple will have been complicit in encouraging the behaviour of the CCP. Don’t worry though, Apple made a large donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center to fight “hate”. The SPLC quickly gave Tim Cook a prize for his stunning bravery. We shouldn’t be surprised that a corporation like Apple uses propagandistic communication & branding along with megalomaniacal control of competition. This is the political and workplace culture they admire most.

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  • This is Apple at its most cowardly and shameful. They should do better because they can afford to do better.

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  • I fully support the EU antitrust investigations. 30% is a ridiculous amount to charge for what they provide. Keep in mind that you must also pay $99 per year to distribute an app in Apple’s app stores. Apple said recently that it has more than 20 million developer accounts, which means that it already receives about $2 billion each year. How much does its app stores actually cost to operate? Is it more than $2 billion each year? And if so, does it justify an extra 30% cut of every transaction made in an app?

    I actually support developer’s being required to use the built-in in-app payment system, but I don’t think Apple should get a 30% cut. Note that payment operators like Visa and MasterCard can’t charge more than 0.2% of a transaction in the EU. I think Apple should acknowledge that developers already pay it $99 a year to use its app stores and reduce its fee to no more than 5%. That fee should be limited to digital goods only (as now), and direct competitors offering competing services (such as Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Kindle etc) should be exempt from the 5% fee. Also, developers should be able to advertise sign ups outside of their apps. At the moment, Spotify, for example, cannot tell people using its iOS app to go to its website to sign up and pay for its service.

    Personally, I actually think that the app stores should be spun out into a subsidiary of Apple and run independently at arms length, applying the exact same rules to Apple’s apps as other developers’ apps, similar to Openreach and BT in the UK. Apple would still own the stores, it would still get the money, and it could still create the rules, but an independent panel would enforce those rules without interference from Apple.

    I think it’s stupid that Apple stopped you from posting that description for your app. Although I will say that Apple is required to follow the law, like you said yourself. You should be allowed to post that description in the West but I understand that you can’t post that in places like China. I also sympathise somewhat with Apple over locating its Chinese-serving servers in China itself. That’s China’s law. Apple can challenge the US and EU governments because they are democratic and follow the rule of law (mostly). China doesn’t. If Apple doesn’t obey then they will be kicked out, which doesn’t help Apple and doesn’t Chinese people who want to use an Apple device. And like when Apple didn’t sell iPhone’s in China, all that meant was that Chinese companies would copy the iPhone almost exactly and then sell it in China themselves, meaning others profit off of Apple’s work. It’s also what has allowed some Chinese companies to become so big and now rival Apple and others outside of China.

    Finally, I’ll just add that Google pulling out of China wasn’t all that brave. Keep in mind that Google’s products are its software and algorithms. If it operated in China then China could easily steal those (almost like copy-pasting for software) and then compete with Google using Google’s own product. Google didn’t leave China for the human rights. It left because China could steal its software products much easier than it can Apple’s hardware products.

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  • For some reason, I just got the notice of this article today. Thank you so much for taking a stand and I am glad to be a user of many years of protonmail services because your values converge with mine. This would be a very different word if tech giants behaved more decently and used their financial power to advance democracy and human rights. I have used Apple products for some time. And now because of this shameful and hypocritical behavior of Apple, plus the audacity to spin itself as a privacy champion, I would now like to migrate to another more secure, responsible and ethical computer platform. In conscience, I cannot continue supporting a company with such an outrageous behavior. However, I do not want to support Google’s android, for Google is another tech giant pushing its weight around and doing massive censorship on a number of issues including alternative scientific perspectives on COVID-19.. Any suggestions in this direction will be much appreciated, even if sent privately to my protonmail email address.

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    • Unfortunately, this is the problem with the current duopoly. We need more options for online products and services that respect users’ privacy.

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  • Frankly, I’m shocked having to read such non-sensical drivel from the CEO itself. There is so much utter garbage that is devoid of facts and reason, I doubt PR or legal proofread any of this. I mean, wow. Where to begin?

    “Apple is using its monopoly to hold all of us hostage” yet “Apple’s iOS controls 25% of the global smartphone market (the other 75%, is largely controlled by Google’s Android).”
    The first sentence completely contradicts the second. Controlling 25% in a market with other options is not a monopoly. Just because Apple controls its own product/platform does not make it illegal or monopolistic. Similar cases haven been litigated in court times and times again where so called “competitors” tried to make a business out of selling non-Mac PCs with macOS. Apple always won those cases and put the ones that tried out of business. Why, because Apple does not hold a monopoly in the PC market.

    “Perhaps the most harmful expression of this power is Apple’s exorbitant 30% tax on developers.” “To be clear, this is an enormous fee and would be intolerable in normal market conditions, but it’s particularly damaging if you offer a product that competes with Apple. It is hard to stay competitive if you are forced to pay your competitor 30% of all of your earnings.”
    It is not exorbitant at all, it is very much in line with what other store fronts ask for, in various other industries. But just for a taste, try selling a photo on a stock photography website. Have fun finding one that gives you 70% of the earnings. It’s rather the other way around, the photographer gets 30% if you’re lucky.
    These fees are the cost of doing business and you calculate that into your business upfront. It is either worth it or you stay out of that business. Clearly 100’s of thousand of developers make that business work for them.

    “What is illegal, is exploiting the fact that it owns the only mall to charge excessively high pricing which harms competitors.”
    Again, it is not excessive as evidenced by dozens of other stores in various industries. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s excessive, nor illegal. Some arbitrary pricing would suddenly making it legal/illegal? Which pricing is ok? I mean, that argument is absolutely nuts. You either take it or leave it.

    “This is virtually indistinguishable from a protection racket: It is a fee that developers must pay if they want to stay in business.”
    Wow, so Apple held a gun to your head to become an iOS developer? You knew these terms and conditions upfront and still decided to enter into business with Apple. Someone clearly didn’t read the contract. It’s not iTunes, you don’t just click “Accept”.
    “And it is a fee which ultimately harms consumers because these fees are indirectly passed on to users, either through higher prices, or through fewer competing products in the marketplace.”
    I’m sorry, which one is it now, harming the consumer or the developer? Again, millions of consumers clearly are willing to pay for whatever developers are charging. People vote with their wallets. They can decide to take their business elsewhere and they do all the time, otherwise Apple would indeed have a monopoly.

    “Apple has now even gone so far as to ban apps from the App Store if they refuse to offer in-app purchases for paid features that are available for purchase elsewhere.”
    This highly simplifies the rules and does not represent the actual stipulations. Again, reading is key.

    “Apple helps propagate authoritarian laws globally” “However, by conceding to tyrants and enforcing the lowest common denominator, Apple is ignoring internationally recognized human rights and forfeiting progress we all enjoy and which activists have paid for with their lives.”
    So much hyperbole and insinuated causation, without evidence. All over a minor description change which isn’t even true: “unblock censored websites” is definitely not the case in one of those authoritarian countries where they block VPNs outright. ProtonVPN is useless in China for example. Have you considered that Apple doesn’t want to have its customers mislead and that’s why the description was rejected? Of course that’s global because you obviously wouldn’t even find ProtonVPN in a country with VPN restrictions because the app is banned on the store anyway.

    “For example, Apple willingly complies with Chinese laws that restrict users’ access to thousands of apps and that require foreign companies to store the data of its citizens within the country and make them available to authorities. Even Google has gone further to resist such Chinese pressure.” “In China, Apple has censored news platforms such as The New York Times and Bloomberg News, while in Hong Kong it blocked the access to the HKMaps app that supported the local democracy protests. It has also agreed to delete dozens of apps, including podcasts, that China says violate local censorship laws.”
    Apple certainly doesn’t do that willingly, they are being forced to do so otherwise their whole business will be banned from China. That includes hardware, manufacturing/assembly and worldwide supply chains. None of which Google has to contend with. But you knew all these very obvious facts, yet you still go on spewing nonsense to seemingly make a point.

    “By censoring ProtonVPN’s app description in order to comply with authoritarian government requests, Apple is making it incrementally more difficult for people to exercise their fundamental human rights and sending a clear signal that profits come before people.”
    So that updated three-word description, which isn’t even universally true, is somehow “making it incrementally more difficult for people to exercise their fundamental human rights”? You seriously believe in that statement? Those most be some strong drugs.

    For a CEO that should (hopefully) understand something about business and a Taiwanese who should understand how an authoritarian regime like China works, I’m sorely disappointed with this post. Stick to physics, that seems to be more your field of expertise.

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    • Hi Eric, thanks for your in-depth response. It doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to persuade you, but I would like to comment on a few of your points. First of all, the App Store does indeed have a monopoly over app distribution on iOS, which is extremely valuable real estate. Being on the App Store is basically synonymous with being in business. One-quarter of the smartphone market is one quarter of a global duopoly. With this power, Apple (and Google) can dictate the terms of the market, which is antithetical to standard notions of free market capitalism. Whether Apple’s 30% fee is fair or not is really beside the point: For one, it would likely be smaller in a competitive marketplace. Moreover, the fee does not apply to Apple or to free apps that profit by abusing people’s data. The developers who are hurt by the status quo are those trying to innovate with privacy-friendly business models which do not treat users as products.

      Reply
  • Maybe it’s time to look for an alliance, and for people to take action, and to think.
    The power of those companies and countries is huge, and no one can stand alone. And I’m afraid it’s likely to get much worse.
    I think that only peer/shared actions can find a way:
    – Blockchain allowed smart contracts and even money, using people’s resources
    – Companies like airbnb or uber only used people’s resources (pretending to be shared economy, which they are not)
    – Facebook or twitter are fed by their users
    – Amazon uses other shop’s resources, and buyer’s good will for reviews, answers…
    and so on.
    But there are places where people still share some values against all that. Here in ProtonMail, in open source places, NGO, Tor users, and so on.
    Join, and find alternatives. Share resources; maybe people can act a proxies to hide the original users, individuals can join and create real p2p associations (you can share your house, but also food, items, electricity or biomass, time, powerforce… and even trade one for others). Create some shared certification so only human-caring companies can get it. Even create or join some “open-source-minded” political parties… All of those ideas have something in common: (responsible) people (that take action).

    Reply
  • I am disgusted with Apple, My hardware is an Apple Mac Mini but I am running Linux Mint on it and I would encourage everybody to get rid of all Microsoft and Mac Software and to ditch anything that has to do with the Technocrat dictatorship companies and go over to Open Source software ASAP. I have just set up a Raspberry Pi micro computer running Raspbian Linux software. Soon I shall be using only the Raspberry Pi for email and browsing until I can afford to buy the hardware to set up a more powerful custom built computer system from scratch which I will run completely on Linux Software. I am also in the process of going over completely to Proton Mail and will set up VPN too.
    Then I will be independent of these Greedy Technocratic maniacs for ever.
    Moonfox Dragonfire, Wales UK.

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  • Thanks for the great article. I have, for some time, tried to change my Apple identity email from gmail to protonmail. Alas, it is possible to change to any other mail provider but Proton. I knew some manipulation was happening but thought it was just because you are Swiss based and Apple had some issue with the supposed privacy of Swiss banking. No, it’s because you are a secure site and can’t be read by Apple or manipulated by Apple. I am sick of Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook and such having such control. I am a conservative and the attacks by the Tech Mafia on Conservative thought have gotten worse and worse. Political speech is a fundamental right of all Americans, and some Europeans. It would appear that the tag “hate” speech now refers to any speech that disagrees with me. I am signing up to the next level, although I will probably not make much use of the increased services. You have my support.

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  • I used to be a Mac user but abandoned the platform when it became clear that Apple the freedom fighter became a tyrant once in power. Almost as bad as Apple is the army of rabid Apple fans who will excuse any transgression because Apple is doing it. Antitrust law should be better enforced and should be stronger, banning artificial lock-in. For example, Apple should not be able to use DRM to block 3rd party chargers.

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  • Just a small request but would you mind holding back 1% of the profit you’re promising to the very worthy HK cause to spend on a Developer to work on Linux Import/Export program so that I can get myself off gmail.

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  • To the leadership…to gain the loyalty that Google possesses, you need to provide an equal product. Since your lack the productivity tools, 15gb of email, calendar and at least equal free cloud storage, you will the draw more people the platform

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  • Dear Andy,

    Interesting read. I support what you have to say. I work in healthcare, so I am quite aware of privacy vs shared information. If you are not monitoring user login and I assume you are also not monitoring file sharing via email, how do you know if for example, pedophiles are transferring pictures of innocent children? Like you say, “ With great power comes great responsibility”.

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  • I agree and I would add Alphabet (and by extension Google), FB Twitter et.al., to that list. While Freedom loving people in Hong Kong fight for the right to BE, ‘some’ people here in America, fight for the opposite. It is incomprehensible – the world is, inverse.

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  • Hi Andy:
    You’ve written a wonderful article(s) and I’m glad Proton is speaking out. As a resident of the USA my entire life, I’m 65 years in age, I’ve witnessed the ruthlessness, belligerence, selfishness, and cruelty of the USA since the Vietnam war and before. As a physician, I’ve seen countless acts of medical interference and suppression mounted against doctors by the FDA, which is controlled by the evil pharmaceutical cartel. This cartel influences medical education (sic) by promoting a dysfunctional medical curriculum that teaches/indoctrinates the use of drugs to suppress symptoms; not to promote healing. They will suppress any forms of treatment that are non-pharmaceutically-related. In addition, decades past, they were granted immunity from prosecution by the government. Today, the evil Tech Giants, censor anything that discusses natural medicine and other forms of treatment. This robs people of the freedom to chose medical treatments and strips providers of their right to choose and administer treatments that are safe, effective, and promote the body’s innate healing processes .
    In addition, medical education, all education for that matter, is not education as only one paradigm is promoted in classrooms; all contrary models/hypotheses/arguments are labeled being “controversial”. In a true educational system, multiple ideas would be presented, and students would be encouraged to align their thoughts with ideas that made sense to them, and/or contribute fresh perspectives. Students are bilked for enormous sums of money as a medical paper degree easily costs $100,000s of dollars not to mention annual cost-of-living expenses. The USA government blames the schools for runaway costs, yet that same government continues funding those skyrocketing costs. Upon completion of studies, students discover that if they consolidate their school loans, the interest rate nearly doubles from the government’s original agreements. Thus the government promotes student longterm indebtedness.

    Everything the USA has been built upon is false and now our evil deeds are coming back upon us. Capitalism doesn’t work and the government doesn’t respond to the will of the people. Americans have been lazy the past decades, and now they’re paying for it. China, USA, North Korea are all evil entities and the sooner their onslaught of death and destruction is halted, the better for our world. COVID-19 is accelerating the collapse of the USA and the world will be a better place, provided that our world’s citizenry construct a new world model where all people are treated fairly and are afforded the freedoms to think, speak, and act without evil constrictions.

    However, and a final caveat: are people living in the world today truly people of moral discernment, wherein they can act for the greater prosperity of all people? Or, as history as demonstrated, are they greedy and small-minded at heart? Time will reveal all.

    Keep up the great work you are doing; we’re glad we became Proton members. Continue to speak out for freedom and reveal the evils that plague and destroy our world. As Proton family members, we can work to make a difference.

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  • It’s tough to see Apple fans blindly giving Apple infinite credit and green light to do whatever they want just because “they built the platform”. The truth is that Apple is unimaginably powerful and influential, beyond most average Joe’s understanding – me included. They have actual hundreds of billions of dollars, can change laws by lobbying, and they can end the lives of small companies at whim. Unless you work for Apple or a big shareholder, they are not going to share their wealth and power with any of you, any of us. Blindly cheering for one of the richest companies in existence with no good reason seems so bizarre to me, there’s anything for us to gain from doing that. Apple’s 30% tax eventually comes back down to customers. When companies – small and big – lose 30% of their revenues because they had to pay Apple, they have no choice but to make their next product higher priced to be able to survive.

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  • Those policies are being used for a very long time and has provided enormous benefits to those companies. The question here is why the policy makers kept the silence and inertia to do something. This shows a flaw in our political system that is unable to react to those kind of threats to the free global market. In my opinion they all know about it but some mysterious forces are acting to keep the irrelevance and the silence of the system and the Laws.
    The only solution is to have the society requesting actions and changes, but the timing has to be enhanced before those Giants destroys and control all of us.

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  • Extremely well written article and argumentation that I support 100%.

    I am only one lowly user, but one who is married to a Chinese wife and hear every day through her Chinese connections and family how much censorship is occurring in Mainland China, now extending to Hong Kong and with threat to freedom of speech springing up all over the world.

    I will support you, I am taking my own actions to support freedom and removal of censorship, particularly where it is masked under the cloak of ‘political correctness” and urge us all to take the small actions that each of us needs to take to deal with these threats to our basic rights and freedoms.

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  • Interesting read, thank you.

    Is there any way to create a completely anonymous social net? Probably not, because you can identify people by their social relations to others or their comments/pictures?

    Even if it were not entirely anonymous it would potentially be a better alternative to our current social networks,

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  • Thank you for this Very Important information
    My Great Grandfather fought for Freedom
    LinuxPusher
    The Freedom to Choose

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  • Thank you, for speaking up on this injustice. As time passes I’m so grateful I signed up with ProtonMail & ProtonVPN. Keep up the good work.

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  • Amazing read. I not only stand behind you in this fight and on this topic, I stand BESIDE YOU. Let me know if there is anything I can do locally to help the cause.

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  • I have been a protonmail user from the very start and am very encouraged to see Andy taking a stand and articulate so clearly what some of the issues are. Doing this from the perspective of a company that has suffered the consequences first hand of these practices really creates a clear picture. It will take the courage of many leaders like Andy to create the rebellious alternatives of the future – like perhaps Apple once was. It’s unfortunate that Tim Cook has taken Apple down this path as it is not a self evident one, and there are options and alternatives. Keep it up Andy! You will inspire change.

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  • Thank you for this article, it’s very nice to see people speaking up and doing something substantial to defend freedom around the world. We will all have to stand together now, not as nations, but as people against the global elitists and their monopolies on global markets and suppression of free speech. God bless you!

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  • It is clear to me that Apple, who depends on Chinees factories to produce 100% of its goods, is bowing to the demands of the Chinees authorities; do what we say or we cut off production. Shame on Apple!

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  • I disagree with your victim’s construct. Nobody is forcing you to develop for Apple. Apple is practically a niche player in the phone space with barely 25% market share and much less in some countries. You want to ride on their coattails and quality of products but then complain that they are taking a cut?

    If it’s so godawful, go develop your own phone. Come out with regular security and feature patches. Don’t like the Apple policies, vote with your feet, and develop for something else or make your own phone.

    Apple doesn’t public pornography apps. Nobody seems to be crying about that. Spotify only went into this because Apple keeps turning out superior products that people want and that 25% market share accounts for something like 94% of the post-purchase spending on apps, etc.

    You didn’t develop the app store, they did. You don’t like their rules, go somewhere else. You are hardly held “hostage”, that’s a victim construct you have created for yourself. What is the next outrage? DMV fees? Property taxes? Walmart and Amazon?

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  • Wonderful! I stand with Protonmail; I stand with the people of Hong Kong.

    Thank you for coming forward with vital information during this critical time. I am glad that I chose to use Protonmail (without knowing that we were of the same mind).

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  • Dear Proton makers,

    Obey Apple rules, even the 30%-rule. Do not confront, but surf the wave. First, let your wonderful software arrive to uninformed people in western countries. They are unaware of what is going on and Proton awakes them. Keep building a strong community, even in western countries only. Otherwise, Proton will be removed from the mainstream of apps…

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  • Any time I hear someone showing off his Iphone, I explain why by his acts he supports the wrong side of the economy.

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  • I would like your lawyers to contact me. I would would like to take on Wal-Crap,, VUDU to be exact, I bought digital movies on their app, and I am not able to transfer them to a more central place. Digital should be usable on every platform once purchased. Same for hard copies, I should not have to pay a fee on top of a movie I already own just to upload it to VUDU.

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  • I have been an avide apple user since my first computer, through the dark days when everyone kept saying apple was crap, and going to fail. I bought one of the first colored iMacs back in the 90s, and have had literally almost every device they have produced. As odd as Steve Jobs might have been, I believe apple was in much, much better hands when he was alive, and have never ‘taken’ to Tim Cook.

    I have also been a user of protonmail almost since beginning, and later the proton vpn. I have had some trouble w/the vpn, and now know what is probably the cause. When trouble starts, I turn it off for a while. Same w/my desktop version.

    As much as I would like to see a ‘free’ internet, the big techs need to be regulated for a number of reasons, and sincerely hope that will happen soon with an EO, if not some other way.

    Thanks to your guys at proton for great products, and for hanging in there fighting the tech giants.

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  • Mr. Yen,
    First of all, thank you and all your employees for all your hard work and your oustanding products and services.
    The folowing may be at little crass, but pobably accurately describes how most people who know what Apple really is about feel-
    FUCK YOU APPLE!

    While you have to tread the fine line of corporate propriety, the rest of are quite free to express less kind opinions about the big, smelly turd that Apple has metamorphized into. Not only are the business practices in it’s App store anti-competive but it actively seeks to discourage “Right To Repair” . Louis Rossman has done many videos on YouTube regarding these practices which continue to this day. Mr Rossman runs an independent electronics repair businees located in Manhattan specializing in Macbooks.

    If you are going after Apple, go for the motherfucking throat. Everything they do that is anti-consumer needs to be rolled into this EU investifation. Make them pay, and make them change for the better.

    On the Android battlefront. phones which you pay over $1000 for should have an unlockable bootloader and drivers available for radio, camera, etc. from the manufacturer. It’s my phone and if I want Lineage or Copperhead or anything else, I shoud be able to flash the ROM. Does Dell tell me I can’t run Linux on the laptop I brought from them? Hell no!
    Why do phone manufacturer’s get away with this shit? Becase we let them, that’s why. And the uncaring. apathetic sheeple won’t get off their asses and vote with their wallats.

    Thank you Mr. Yen, for giving a fuck and for doing something to fix it.

    P.S. I have e-mail and VPN accounts with your company.

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  • FYI Proton doesn’t work in China. I am using another free VPN. Even a paid VPN service that I have doesn’t work.

    I would rather have access to some of the services then none at all. Google made a mistake by completely withdrawing. By completely withdrawing you miss a chance to state your side of the argument, which will gradually lead to a better understanding. But, isolationism suits the American political interests, partnering with some tyrants while making enemies with others.

    By the way Chinese Apple store does have VPN apps and there are millions of Chinese using VPNs now. I see this as the first step towards lifting of internet censorship in China. Maybe, in the next 10 years or so.

    Free speech bla bla bla only works in the US/West if you don’t talk against select groups or topics. That is a censorship of another kind.

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  • lets not forget the biggest con of Apple store publishing, in the fact you must buy into the expensive apple ecosystem, you are forced to purchase a Mac computer to even be able to publish in the store, buy an Apple developer license, as well as a potential IOS device if your building mobile apps rather than desktop, so upward of $3k just for the privilege of publishing

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  • I always support the underdog.

    Back in the days when Apple was in danger of being squashed by the ruthless monopolist, Microsoft, I bought, what were clearly superior products. Clearly Apple had superior OS and was just better to use in comparison to the clunky and horribly unreliable Windows.

    Now they have become the monopolists. They don’t want to pay taxes in any one country because, as they argue, they do not belong to any country. Here is transglobal company that sees itsefl as being above all rules of fair engagement and law.

    SOLUTION:
    Tax Apple at the point of sale in each country and stop them shifting the profits to tax heavens. Introduce tariffs on countries like Ireland, where they hide their profits with the intention of avoiding being taxed.

    Thanks to EU for standing up over the years to all these American Googles, Microsofts and Apples of this world, because no US government or politician ever had or will have the nerve to stand up to them.

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  • Thank you for your brave actions. Monopolies such as the GAFAs are ultimately dangerous for democracy. Monopolies incidentally that don’t pay their due taxes and hence have an uncompetitive advantage.
    As a technical ignoramus, is there no way that an alternative access to using Apple and Android could be developed?
    I would like to be able to have a free choice of internet gateway, which obviously I do not have.

    Could you develop such an alternative?

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  • Uff… Thanks Eric. Someone wrote all my thoughts before me. It’s really “funny” to read such an article from such a company. It seems that Proton was just angry because Apple decided to ask them to change their app. And it’s really interesting the logic of it: iOS system is much more secure than Android. Proton is a company that positions itself as a company fighting for freedom – and security, since this is something that a VPN is used for. But they (Proton) think that (maybe) iOS should be “open” as Android is, so losing iOS’ security features. Can’t buy that.

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  • Its good to inform people but let’s not feed into the conspiracy theory especially when it is becoming anti-semitic. Be aware that every giant tech company has some sort of monopoly and starts out as small and independent. Even Proton.

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  • Immense respect for ProtonMail for speaking out.

    We cannot be accomplices to Apple’s dictatorial behavior under the false pretense that it ever was “privacy-friendly”, especially when there is strong evidence against this claim.

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  • I have read your report from the Apple company and now I have my doubts about privacy with PPVN and with IOS on my phone and with the MacBook.
    My question: Are my browsing data safe.
    Tengp Protonmail and ProtonVPN paid.
    Thank you

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  • Hi. Maybe I am dense and uninformed, but I mostly manage to avoid both the Google and AppStore due to privacy issues – namely I don’t want them knowing and selling information about what apps I use. I have literally contacted Discover and other institutions and told them I need them to link me to their app or end it in an email. It has been difficult to convince them sometimes, but I always manage to get it – OR ELSE I DON’T NEED IT THAT BADLY. So, my question is, and really, sorry if I just don’t understand … who is forcing these companies to use these ‘stores’? Is it the cost of traffic to the app and downloading it? Why don’t companies just keep their apps on their sites? Or are we speaking of just smaller developers? Truly curious.

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    • Certainly for a small developer, not having your app on Google or Apple basically guarantees it will not achieve mass adoption. The effect of this is to reinforce the dominance of Google and Apple’s ecosystems at the expense of alternative (and quite often privacy-focused) companies.

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  • Thank you for the article. It saddens me to realize yet again that the only value practiced in America is that based on money. Why is it so hard to be ethical, kind and honest? I am not sure what I can do with this information. I do know I will work hard to change our elected government in the next months. Maria

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  • This is bullocks. You just lost a long time paying customer.

    Until country borders come down and there is just one world, or policy makers get fully onboard the digital internet train to make internet work properly between countries, there can’t be a fully open internet. If you want to free Tibet, go there and free it instead of crying about your landlords rules (which are very sensible). You have zero third party access in your products too. Only way to use ProtonMail is to have a ProtonMail account. Hypocrite much?

    Nobody forces you to have your apps on the Appstore. Windows Phone is said to have died due to not having apps. Leave and maybe Apple will face the same faith. I am choosing to leave you because of this sad outburst.

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  • Given your distaste for American corporations forcing their values on the rest of the world through their business practices, I’m surprised that you would choose to use American spellings to express your organization’s values. Your web site describes an international, multilingual team so I would think you would embrace British English (or just English as an acquaintance from England calls it) as the international standard. The English language was developed by the English people in England and (for better or for worse) was taken around the world by them. Other English-speaking countries have their own deviations from the original language but they tend to be much closer to British English than American English.

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  • Es por eso que compre un android y no un apple. No me gusto mucho la idea que solo pudiera descargar aplicaciones de su “ecosistema”

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    • Desafortunadamente, el ecosistema de Google/Android no es mejor (y puede ser peor). Por eso todos tenemos que rechazar la situación actual y apoyar políticas y servicios que aumenten nuestras opciones privadas.

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  • You write: “Apple attempts to justify these fees by arguing that the App Store is no different from a mall, … This … conveniently ignores the fact that there is just a single mall … and no possibility of a competing mall to rent space from. It is not illegal for Apple to own a mall and rent space, nor is it illegal for Apple to own the only mall”

    I think it is quite illegal for Apple to own the only mall, for all the many reasons you point out. It’s a basis for anti-competitive practices. Do you really want to be a in a world where its ok for Apple to own the only mall and you have to trust a government authority to monitor it and determine when prices charged by the monopoly mall are too high?

    Windows, the prior model, along even with Mac OS, each had many avenues by which users could download software onto their computers. In the old model each software company’s website was a “mall” where users could download software.

    It’s been quite clear all along that Apple specifically sought to control app access to the device via the store or itunes to exploit the monopoly distribution channel.

    For the record, Cydia, represents a competing mall, but requires a jailbroken phone. Apple also tried to stop jailbreaking but lost that battle.

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  • eric: “It is not exorbitant at all, it is very much in line with what other store fronts ask for, in various other industries. But just for a taste, try selling a photo on a stock photography website. Have fun finding one that gives you 70% of the earnings.”

    Eric seems rather fond of confusing apples and oranges. Photographers are not *forced* to sell photos on stock web sites. They can sell from their own sites, for free, or pay the rate of the stock site. They could also choose among competing sites for better rates.

    But IOS App developers cannot sell their apps from their own sites because Apple has restricted both the deliver method and installation method.

    App developers on Windows Mac OS and Linux can all download apps directly from their web sites to the computer device and the cost is $0.

    So, yes, for an app developer, historically, the expected distribution cost has been $0. Developers did not have to sell their apps through a retail outlet.

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  • Congratulations. You are one of the few people who both understand and can articulate the IOS app distribution monopoly strategy Apple has used.

    Note that the prior application distribution method on platforms such as Windows, Mac Osx, and Linux were for users to browse to the app developer’s web site, download from there, and install the application locally. Both Windows and Unix provide package installation tools. The net distribution cost for application developers was therefore $0. So, in my mind, any price Apple charges above $0 is already a gouge from the prior models, with absolutely no added value.

    Having a over-the-air distribution channel might be valuable for brain-dead consumers, but not for the rest of us. To be snotty about it, I am a techie and power user. I jailbroke my iPhone to get Cydia, ssh, and the debian pkg installation manager. Users like commenter “Eric” are, well, dumb consumers, (or trolls), blissfully ignorant, and they have to pay a fortune to Apple, and are apparently happy to do so.

    The worst part of Apple’s monopoly distribution scheme is that it reversed the industry trend from open architectures and open systems to walled gardens where huge media vendors capture consumers by capturing their media libraries and and distribution methods. While the generic concept of play from anywhere cloud storage may be valuable for consumers, playing from anywhere *BY ANY DEVICE* is even more valuable than having consumers locked into having to buy a specific vendor’s device to be able to play from that vendors cloud stored media, and so savvy users will understand that capturing the media locks users into the device and so the device prices will also be inflated.

    For example, Apple IOS also refuses to support client Samba capabilities. Samba is the generic architecture that allows Unix based systems to “see” remote (Windows) file systems. My Apple IOS cannot see my QNAP network storage, it cannot see my PC storage and it cannot see my Mac OS storage. What I mean by this is that I cannot tell my IOS video app to play a video on any external drive in my home network that contains my video collection. I must manually move each video from the collection to the device either through itunes or through other clunky mechanism such as mail, Dropbox, etc.

    Note that my LG DVD player is capable of doing this. As is my Roku. As is pretty much every dumb Linux box I own. So it’s a little difficult to understand why Apple can’t support it on IOS, a full version of Unix, …. unless they don’t want to. And oddly, one of the reasons Apple has different models of products such as iPad is because of storage. More expensive ipad models contain more internal storage. But why do you need lots of internal storage if you can “see” your already existing network storage and “play from there.” So Apple dumbs down the normal capabilities of its IOS products to price gauge over things like internal disk storage. Why should I have to pay for expense SSD storage to Apple to restore a copy of my media that is already on my home network.

    So its a bit ironic that Apple is great at over-the-air distribution of media through its monopoly store, but terrible at over-the-air distribution of media from my home network.

    Apple’s core competency is not making SSD’s but their core competency may be to extract the highest price out of an internal SSD by dumbing down IOS architecture. (Comcast did something similar by dumbing down its Linux-based set top DVR to “not see” external eSATA attached drives for added DVD storage. You were stuck buying another DVR with more storage from Comcast. Eventually Comcast did support eSata, but then stopped supporting it again once its (limited) cloud based DVR storage was rolled out. It did not tell previous eSata users that by upgrading their DVR they were losing access to their existing eSATA hard drives.)

    So now the tech market is filled with mean giants looking for ways to capture and price gouge their customers through proprietary and closed wall gardens. Much, though not all, of the model is due to Apple.

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  • About an year ago, I had the behind the scene practice of Apple to portray its competitors in bad light. I was playing Spotify in my 6s and my headset was continuously clipping…I couldn’t listen to it any further and I thought of checking it in my Pixel 3xl, to see how it sounded. Interestingly, it sounded very clean, no jarring or clipping. I then realised that the reason for the jarring was the high output level, which lead to the clipping. Later I brought this to the notice of spotify and after few weeks it was not there. Now I’m not sure whether Apple did this purposefully to discourage its users from spotify. Given apples ruthless consumeristic practices, I won’t blink an eye if they did this on purpose.
    I beleive apple could never be compared with Google. The services (mail,maps,lens,translation etec.etc.) by google benefit the humanity at large and what’s the service does apple offer? It pales in comparison. Though google may try to monetise by playing ads, it’s nothing comparable to the monopolist attitude of apple. By the way I’ve quit my 6s and preferrred to rely only on my trusty 3Xl.

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  • Thank you fpr confirming what everybody should have realised for a long time.
    The attitude of Apple and other companies respevt nothing except their own desrire to control the world and and increase their own profits.
    This happens because they consider themselves superior and the rest of us are cash caows whose only purpose is to be milked as often as possible.

    Moooo…

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  • I think this article is hypocritical. You don’t like Apples 30% to use a platform that they built and have to maintain that gives you access to their users? Then why do you charge me a fee to have access to all of Protonmail’s features? Why can’t I be like Spotify and expect free access to everything you have to offer? Should an investigation be conducted into Protonmail?

    I think this argument by Spotify and this article is ignorance at its finest.

    Reply
    • Spotify subsidizes its free service with ads. However, we believe it is important to have a user-supported business model so that our interests are always aligned with our community. Those who upgrade to benefit from ProtonMail paid features enable us to offer free, end-to-end encrypted email to everyone on earth.

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  • How about coming up with an OS created in another country (not the US) that would serve as a counterbalance to those already in existence? That way, we can also enjoy Huawei phones and other tech that have been banned in the US?

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  • Excellent article.

    Might I just ask if this is in fact an accurate statement;

    “ProtonVPN, the world’s first free and unlimited VPN service…”

    The free version is limited in terms of bandwidth, countries and devices compared to the paid versions. Perhaps the use of the word ‘unlimited’ was intended to convey a different meaning (which escapes me)?

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    • Thanks, Felix! ProtonVPN is unlimited in terms of bandwidth and no data caps. However, you rightly point out there are extra features which are reserved for those with paid plans, who enable us to provide our service.

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  • Thank you so much for the information Andy Yen! I support you 100%. My husband and I are getting rid of our smart phones in September because of this. My emails(google) were hijacked…they weren’t coming through when they were sent as if they were being re-routed somewhere else first. documents and pictures and saved webpages from a particular web search removed from my devices. so tired of being spied on and censored with incoming info and outgoing!! Thank you for standing up and doing the right thing!

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  • Nice note Andy. In fact I saw the writing on the wall as we all said good bye to Steve Jobs. I stopped using apple products for the very reasons youve listed.

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  • All monopolistic entities behave the same. Look at google, facebook, instagram, twitter, yahoo, amazon, or microsoft as well. Every one of them is heavily involved in censorship, maximizing profits (by working with suppressive governments?), eliminating any and all competition, suppressing tech advances, and even creating oppressive laws in governments around the world. There needs to be a fight against them, but more importantly there needs to be educations for their sheeple and drones…it’s not going to come from the microsoft and ipad filled classrooms around the world.

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  • Hi Andy,
    I am very impressed with what you are doing to advance privacy and competition in the internet. You are my new tech “superhero” lol.
    Keep up the fantastic (and brave) work. The world needs more people like you to defend our freedom and fight authoritarianism wherever
    it rears it’s ugly head. Thank you and GOD and the LORD Jesus Christ bless and keep you (and yours).

    Best wishes,
    Gregg Mcayne

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  • Please cut the useless rant about Monopoly. Users can go to Android, windows, Linux (desktop) and various other sources. This is a distraction for you. Focus on your product. Occasional mention of authoritarian influence is interesting though. Mostly you are preaching to the choir. I’m interested in what you are doing, not what others are doing. That is why I’m on your services.

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  • Absolutely awesome artical, a huge thank you to all at Protonmail, who stand behind the commitment to :
    ” Freedom of Speech ” and
    ” Privacy ”

    Greatly appreciated…….

    Reply
  • Étrange vous êtes Suisse romands et vous faite des articles en Anglais sans même proposer une traduction en Français. C’est un peu dommage je trouve de devoir passer par G le grand maléfique pour traduire vos articles.

    Reply
    • Hello! Please forgive the irony of responding in English, but we agree with you and we are working to translate our websites into all major languages over the coming months. Thank you for your patience!

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  • You guys in the Proton Tech know what it all means: That you need to develop the ProtonOS for mobiles! In desktops we already have the Linux, but in mobiles, we are on our knees, submitted to the Google/Android & Apple/iOS monopoly. We have no alternative! This is an unacceptable situation. Proton Tech is one of the few resistance companies in good position to do this (together perhaps with the Mozilla Foundation. ‘Pure’ also promise something, but they have been taking too long to deliver anything real). Please, make the ProtonOS! A Linux-based system for ARM architecture. It will be a great success in the alternative market of privacy oriented systems. And with the worsening of freedoms in Western nations, with leftists forces aggressively promoting anti-liberty of expression agendas, globalist actions, pro-politically correctness, terrorist movements like BLM, Antifa, there will be a great pro-liberty political awareness in society in the coming months/years, especially among the more moderate and less politicized people, who until now did not find it so necessary to adopt alternative platforms to the technocratic giants, but start to wake up. The world is in a cold war, an aggressive cultural war is underway, and things are getting worse fast, from moderately “discrete” actions to explicitly aggressive unacceptable actions. Companies like Proton Tech need to strategically position themselves in the front and develop and supply resistance weapons to the freedom lovers people. Mark my words, Proton Tech all tools and services will experience a user boom in the coming months/years. Start the development of the ProtonOS now! And congratulations on everything you’re doing!

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  • I do everything possible to avoid FAGAT (Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Twitterump) products and services. I value my identity. If you don’t already have accounts with these abusive monopolistic companies, please look to alternatives like Brave, ProtonMail, DuckDuckGo, etc.

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  • I picked up an 8.1 iMac off the street and was able to install Linux Mint or KDE Neon on it, getting the latest Linux OS. Apple charges it’s customers significant fees for it’s hardware then locks them into a software package that rapidly devalues the product to the point that it becomes street rubbish. They should should show more respect to their customer base by supporting upgrades to old hardware. By contrast, one is able to download the latest Linux software on any PC or MAC or Arm Computer.
    I advise Protom Mail to advertise Linux Distros and software alternatives on their web site with integrated VPN as a replacement for a MAC OS or Win10. The best way to force change in the industry is lure Apple and Microsoft customers away with better, more flexible and cost effective LINUX Distros and software packages.
    Please do support KMail and Evolution with your Encryption software. I have moved on from Thunderbird to these alternatives.

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  • This isn’t anything surprising coming from Apple. During the mid-1990’s when I was just beginning my career, I used to work for a company that used all Apple-based equipment. That was the worst 2 years of work experience I’ve ever had in my life but it was a learning experience in the way Apple conducts it’s business.

    Apple insisted to have complete and total control over their hardware. If anything went wrong with one of the company’s desktops, I was not allowed to even open the computer case to examine it’s insides let alone replace a component. It all had to be done by an “Apple Approved” repair center. I think it was like $100 just for them to open the cover and look at it. That initial charge was not covered by the warranty – only the replacement of defective components was covered. If you opened it yourself, it would void Apple’s warranty entirely. This was unheard of in the PC world.

    I remember one of my co-workers getting one of those new PowerPCs that supposedly had the ability to run MacOS as well as Windows OS. He was a graphics artist so the first thing he did was install about a dozen or so fonts. The PowerPC immediately gave him an error saying that it was low on memory. The product was shipped with just enough RAM required for it to perform basic functions like booting up. Even running a simple calendar program would cause the machine to complain about not having enough memory. Enabling virtual RAM (where it uses a swap file on the hard drive to supplement the real RAM) would considerably slow down the machine such that merely moving your mouse would cause there to be a several second delay before the cursor moved on your screen.

    The RAM issue was confirmed by the “Apple Approved” technician … after we brought the machine into their shop and paid the $100 “open the cover” fee of course. He recommended adding more RAM. RAM was very expensive back then and as that was considered an upgrade and not a hardware defect, it was not covered by the warranty. So you just spent X amount of dollars to buy the machine, now let’s go ahead and spend even more money so that it could be useful. That co-worker, the graphics designer, wasn’t having any of it and he went back to his old machine.

    As for that “ability to run Windows OS”, the PowerPC didn’t have that ability right out of the box. You had to either buy a software package that emulates the PC environment or buy an upgrade card that would get installed inside the machine in one of the expansion slots. Both options also required purchasing additional RAM on top of that. I remember my boss was fuming because he had just purchased a PowerPC for himself and was like “this thing was marketed as being both a Mac and a PC, how do I activate Windows mode ?!?!” Well surprise surprise, you gotta spend more money to do that. Both PowerPCs got tossed in the trash and they were much more wiser with their Apple purchases afterwards.

    I could list a dozen more similar cases but the point that came across was clear: Apple was a marketing company first and foremost. That’s when I made a personal decision to boycott Apple products for life. To this day, I have not purchased not even a single Apple product. They create some innuendo that you’d “look cool” if you were to spend several hundred dollars for an iPhone. But since that thing comes with planned obsolescence built into it’s design, all it really does is make you look silly as you keep purchasing a new one each year … assuming you’re careful not to crack it’s delicate screen thus forcing you to replace it even sooner.

    Apple’s arrogance has grown worse over the years that even the most die-hard fans are beginning to question their practices. That’s not to say that Microsoft is any better … at least not anymore. Again, another case of gross arrogance. Microsoft made a huge mistake when they made their Internet Explorer web browser a core component of Windows 98. Me and every other developer I knew saw right through that and migrated to Linux a few years later. Thankfully I was able to convince even my non-technically-savvy friends to move to Ubuntu long before Microsoft started forcing Windows 10 onto their computers.

    Unfortunately, there are no mainstream alternatives to Apple or Andoid. Canonical, the group that developed the Ubuntu flavor of Linux, was in the process of developing a version that would run on smartphones and tablets a few years ago. I’m sorry to say that it never took hold due to a number of issues. I’ve heard of some Linux smartphones such as the “Purism Librem 5” and “PinePhone” being tested in select markets but it’s a long way of becoming a mainstream global alternative.

    An option is to just use a regular “dumb phone” for your calls and text messages. Caterpillar manufactured some really good ones. For PDA (personal digital assistant) functionality, you could get a separate device such as a netbook or tablet PC and install Linux. If you’re really into Samsung’s Galaxy tablet but want to use Linux instead of Android OS, you’ll need to “root” the device. This is a complicated procedure but if successfull, you’ll wind up with a nice little PDA.

    Reply
  • Merci pour cet article que je me suis permis de partager aux nombreux lecteurs du Blog korben.info si ça peut faire un peu de visibilité en plus … J’en profite aussi pour vous remercier pour votre travail, j’utilise ProtonMail depuis très longtemps sans contrepartie, et peut-être que ProtonDrive sera mon premier geste “commercial” envers vous bien qu’il sera intégré à ProtonMail (ainsi que Calendar) payant d’après ce que j’ai lu. Bonne continuation à tout l’équipe !

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  • I do agree with 99.9% of everything you have written, except your stance on Hong Kong. And though I understand the universal intent of your stance, I cannot agree with it based on the rather delicate and intimate relationship between China and Hong Kong. As you very well know, being from Taiwan, that the relationship between China and Taiwan is very different in comparison to the relationship of China and Hong Kong. As you know, Taiwan was formed by those dissidents who sought to bring a change in China by way of adopting a Western Society course, and when they lost, sought refuge on the then sparsely inhabited island of what is now Taiwan. Hong Kong on the other-hand, was taken by force by the British (yes China agreed, only to save many lives and a way of life) who had promised to return it within 99 years (which they did not) because of the wealth they envisioned by controlling the shipping route to that part of the World at the time. So, please stop looking at China through rose colored glasses and remember the history of yet another “grave injustice” of Western Society upon the World. And I do understand Honk Kong’s position.

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  • Thanks for this information and your outspoken way of explaining the in and outs of the Apple and Google, etc. I am also very proud to be a customer from your company and will surely go for ProtonDrive when it becomes available. I am presently using Dropbox from Microsoft and are constantly afraid that they will use my information for their benefits. Would love it if you could also start a new OS with a less intrusive way of behaviour then windows. Keep up the good work and if you need us, just let us know!!

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  • ProtonMail,
    Thank you for standing for human rights and the key components of personal privacy and free speech. I have been using ProtonMail for a short time and am exploring VPN use. As an Apple iOS user should I be concerned that your VPN has been compromised due to Apples requirements?

    Reply
    • Hi Rick, thanks for the support and your question. No, Apple’s requirements do not affect the security of our encryption or our systems. They simply restrict our ability to communicate information about App Store pricing and our anti-censorship capabilities transparently.

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  • Thank you for a revealing blog and re-inforces my own opinion on apples practices in regards to apps its similar to the battery scam they were running them down to force people to upgrade iphones. I have a 2015 macbook pro and found that the machine would go into hibernation at random power levels after the autumn 2015 OSX upgrade but I didn’t suspect it at first I just thought it was Bitdefender (as that loads before anything else). But I contacted Apple at the start 2016 they did online test could identify anything, they problem continued. I contacted them 2 years later as I could not replicate the fault they asked to look at my machine remotely, this woman went through all the apps in the applications folder pointing out all the software that was not apples in particular software I had downloaded directly from companies like yourselves that wasn’t available on the app store or I felt was a more portable option in regards to file compatability (recently noticed this in regards to pages and numbers being reduced in options). She wanted me to delete software I rarely used which I didn’t go along with. So there was no issue resolved and has continued until recent OSX updates as the issue appeared to get worse after each upgrade unless I reset the system settings.
    I commented on News article on the BBC about Apple pricing recently, I said about how Apple doesn’t appear to doing what Mr Jobs advocated in the pricing of their products when there computer ranges were updated, namely keeping them around the same price but with higher spec hardware which I think they can afford to do now (as recent headlines have proved). They’re becoming over priced for what they’re selling when compared to windows and linux machines, are we paying for a lot of software we don’t use or need (it reminds me of the microsoft windows and the Explorer senario).

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  • Thank you, Mr. Yen, for bringing this to my attention. I’m disgusted by the corruption I see in our leaders and major businesses, and lament for our future under the emerging panopticon.

    I’m a working father with little spare time and less spare money, but I’d like to help. I’ll share this message with anyone who will listen. What else can I do?

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  • Last I checked, Epic is 40% owned by Tencent. Tencent as we know, closely works with the Chinese gouvernment. The very gouvernment who is about unethical monitoring of it’s citizens, amongst many other atrocities.
    They aren’t the only country sadly and of course, but they are the epicenter of this particular situation, so I will focus on China alone for this discussion.

    “we applaud this decision, and also Spotify’s bravery”
    Let’s be real. Spotify isn’t brave. It’s looking out for it’s profits.

    “Today, Apple has become a monopoly, crushing potential competitors with exploitative fees and conducting censorship on behalf of dictators.”
    So like Epic is already becoming? They ruthlessly aim for a monopoly in the videogame industry, crushing competitors with exploitative fees, in the form of paying exhorbitant amounts to developers in return for exclusivity.
    Conducting censorship on behalf of dictators? How many companies with chinese investors did not speak in support of the Hong Kong Protesters like you guys did? The answer is many. Many were silent. And we all know that’s because they were afraid of their investors’ wrath.

    “American tech giants have long engaged in abusive behavior which is designed to stifle dissent and competition, and perpetuate their market dominance. ”
    So exactly what Epic is doing.

    “It is hard to stay competitive if you are forced to pay your competitor 30% of all of your earnings. ”
    C’mon guys, that’s the same excuse Epic used against Steam, and while there’s a point to it, Epic’s sly point was certainly not to “help developers”.

    “Apple helps propagate authoritarian laws globally”
    Tencent does too.

    “to leverage market dominance for anti-competitive purposes”
    Epic does this too.

    “in effect doing the bidding of authoritarian governments”
    So Apple supports China as well as Tencent. This feels like children fighting over daddy’s approval.

    “biggest threats to democracy and freedom in the 21st century is Internet censorship”
    which China is known to do. Relentlessly.

    “Apple is using its market dominance to also force other companies”
    So like Epic is also doing.

    “Apple is making it incrementally more difficult for people to exercise their fundamental human rights and sending a clear signal that profits come before people”
    So like every corporation out there. Including Tencent.

    “With great power (and profits) comes great responsibility”
    Yes, responsibility. The very thing corporations go out of their way to avoid.

    “Despite its own portrayal as a paragon of human rights, the instances where Apple has proven itself as a defender of these rights have become rarer in recent years.”
    Same as Epic.

    “they are entitled to try to make as much money as possible”
    That is ridiculous, and part of the mentality that leads to these situations in the first place.

    “have a minimum moral responsibility to uphold human rights”
    Stop behaving like you guys were born yesterday. We all know damn well no corporation upholds that. And in fact go out of their way to get away with as much inhumane behaviour as possible.

    It is undeniable that what Apple is doing is horrid. And it needs to stop.
    However I fail to see how by supporting this lawsuit you guys are not supporting Epic, Tencent, and ultimately China, who’s very basic fibre goes against everything ProtonMail seems to stand against.

    This feels like a no win situation, as both of these companies ultimately support a ruthless, corrupt, and anti-human system.

    There must be a better way.

    Thank you.

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  • Wow. Kudos to you for speaking up so boldly&with tact&educating your readers. I had known from life’s experiences to avoid big companies. I’ve had no use for Apple&know very few individuals who have Apple products. I had no idea how Apple is that big&that profitable. I didn’t&still don’t know&don’t comprehend the flow of currency from 1 end to the other, meaning that I don’t comprehend how a person would make a choice to purchase Apple related products&services. Perhaps it’s my frugal nature. Perhaps it’s my resourcefulness nature to look for other ways of attaining my products at a more affordable or free rate. Conversely, I thought Google wad much more powerful than Apple. I would encourage you to open&write an article addressing Google’s usage of tracking us through key stokes&the hidden black market of companies that wait for us to visit any website&their ways of timing us&tracking us&building profiles on us&selling them&exposing their clients&how that data is being used against us. It would be nice if you would tell us the truth about how secure , if at all secure, is our usage of proton services such as protonmail and protonvpn on android phones. Does Google have access to our use and privacy of using these proton serviced through their key strokes data aggregation? Unfortunately I ran out of room to write more. Hopefully this powerful comment will make it to you all.

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  • Thank you for the detailed explanation of what we have long suspected. Regrettably I have had experience of “interference” from the Tech Giants when I had to switch off my VPN in order to view a broadcast about the repression of personal rights in a certain country. I chose not to comply. I also had an Internet Service Provider who said that their system (which was very good) had a problem with some of the algorithms used by my VPN … so I would have to switch off my VPN to use their service … I didn’t use their service ! However this perfectly illustrates your point … if you have an IPhone, you forfeit choice. Interesting that these giant companies operate in a country which “trumpets” its world leadership in anti-trust legislation.
    I chose to purchase your product because I was fed up giving email advice to my son on purchasing gardening equipment and subsequently being bombarded with related adverts. I applaud your stance and offer you unreserved support.

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  • We have been following the Hong Kong fight for months, watching hours at a time of LIVE footage of the protests (Michael Yon is an amazing journalist, extremely wise and brave) and have been dismayed at the way things have gone there.

    THANK YOU FOR MAKING A STAND. It’s terrifying to think that you people are being threatened physically as well. We hope you are able to keep yourselves safe, as so many are not able to do. We completely support your fight. Except with money, sadly, because we haven’t yet figured out how to make any and still be nice people. God bless you all. We are praying for you.

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  • Excellent article! I refuse to use anything Apple. Google has become such an evil greedy empire. Wish there was a good alternative to youtube.

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  • I think the truth is that if you’re not an IT Guru, it’s difficult to truly understand the implications of corporate data hording & what is actually being done with your data. It would be useful to have someone on your team, who’s knowledgeable, work through a few examples of how surfing the net & clicking on a link & the cookies that get placed on your system & other seemingly innocuous events ultimately reduce your privacy. It would be revealing to learn how the data is used & our privacy is compromised.

    Sure we hear horror stories frequently enough about data breaches & the fall out from such events. Many of us have even been the victims. However, I don’t think many of us are connecting the dots. Can you help?
    Regards
    Avner

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  • I own two company’s in Germany, we are changing to Linux, fairphone from e_foundation and open source software as far as possible.
    At the Moment “freedom” for us just cost some “comfort”.

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  • Thank you so much for standing up to tech giants like Apple and Google, who invade privacy, restrict free speech and sell out to repressive regimes like the Chinese Communist Party!

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  • thank you so much for your courage to share this content with us.
    there is a big bro movement regarding social media and the internet who takes more and more control about personal data, censoring the democratic landscape and our right of free expression in the web.
    hopefully more and more people see and hear about what is happening.

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  • Apple (and Google) could take the opposite approach to censorship and lack of privacy on the part of Authoritarian Governments by forcing them to comply with basic freedoms through Boycotting those countries from acquiring free market apps. Yes, the authoritarian countries could create apps internally, but Apple and Google could disable them through updates to the OS . Apple and Google’s behavior is a clear case of Freedom and Privacy vs Profits and Pandering, leading Free World Countries to the door step of Authoritarianism.

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