Privacy as a form of openness: Moving away from Google Suite

We recently transitioned from using Google Suite as our main provider for email and online storage, in favor of Proton. This is a conscious choice regarding the security of both our internal communications and the security of information people share with us.

Back in 2019, when we first required more scalable email solutions, we opted for Google Suite because it was straightforward and well known. Despite being familiar with the issues even back then, we decided to use it as it was a de facto standard thing to do. It was available and incredibly easy.

Over the years, the symbiosis with the Google Workspace grew for us. It also became harder to disentangle from Google altogether. The linked applications, the logins tied to the Google account, and the Google Accounts we actually need to run our business (like our YouTube Channel or Google Business). It took several months to ensure a good transition but now we are migrated and disentangled to the degree possible.

Since its inception in 2014, Proton gained the reputation of being a solid and reliable end-to-end encrypted email provider. Since then, they’ve expanded with storage, calendar, and VPN services as well, indicating they consider the entire suite of tools for running a business. That is why we now provide all our internal employees with a Proton accounts, including all of these services, amping up our security across the board, not just emails. Any internal emails are end-to-end encrypted by default. During travels, we can use reliable VPN services to prevent snooping.

This also means that whenever you send an email to an address, you can rest assured it is encrypted on our end and there is no third party snooping going on at our email provider. If you use Proton yourself, the email will be fully encrypted from sending to receiving.

The migration was not flawless — we lost some functionality because integrations are limited. For example, our scheduling software SavvyCal no longer works. We have to manually enter data into our sales pipeline, and you may find some broken links over time (let us know). It was good to realize how much of the value in the Google workspace actually came from the integrations. On the flipside, the data flowing that easily between service providers is also a risk that information can end up in the wrong place unknowingly.

In the end, we are open as a means to recalibrate power imbalances. Privacy is another way to recalibrate power imbalances, hence, crucial to include in what it means to be open.

Privacy as a form of openness: Moving away from Google Suite
Liberate Science GmbH April 3, 2023
A reading of the "Guerilla Open Access Manifesto" (s03e02)