ProtonMail was supposed to be an easy email encryption tool that would finally give us an answer to Internet surveillance around the world. Instead, PayPal has frozen over $275,000 in donations to the project because, a PayPal representative told the company, the American payment service is not sure if ProtonMail is legal. Of course, it is absolutely legal to encrypt email. The freeze remains in place.
Most incredible of all, the PayPal representative was unsure if ProtonMail has the necessary government approval to encrypt emails, as though anyone who encrypts needs a license to do so.
ProtonMail doesn't need government approval, by the way, but it has it anyway. The encryption used by ProtonMail has been unquestionably legal since the 1990s. If that's not enough, the Constitution's First Amendment protects encryption code and its Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable searches, exactly what encryption protects against.
PayPal did not respond to request for comment in time for publication.