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Proton Docs brings end-to-end encryption to online document editing

Published Jul 3rd, 2024 8:58AM EDT
Proton Docs will be end-to-end encrypted.
Image: Proton

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If you’ve been dreaming about an end-to-end encrypted alternative to Google Docs and Microsoft 365, your wish has just been granted. Swiss software developer Proton on Wednesday announced Docs in Proton Drive, which will offer an extra privacy feature no other collaborative online document editing product can match.

Proton Docs is the latest addition to Proton’s expanding list of apps and services. It’ll be available for free as part of the Proton Drive experience in your Proton account. A subscription will get you more storage space for Proton Drive and other premium features for other Proton apps available under the same account.

Proton developed Proton Drive after acquiring the encrypted notes app Standard Notes. Proton Docs will support markdown, rich text, code blocks, and checklists. It also supports image embeds, as well as multiple document formats, including Microsoft .docx files you might be used to from your Microsoft 365 subscription.

The online document editing tool will let you collaborate with others in real time. It’ll show collaborative cursors and presence in real time, and you can invite anyone to work on your documents. But people will need a free Proton account before getting access to the document. That’s because the entire experience is end-to-end encrypted.

Proton says it encrypts everything, including keystrokes and cursor movements. Nobody can access your data, not even Proton or the authorities. You’ll store the files on servers in Switzerland that are governed by local laws.

Collaborating on a document in Docs in Proton Drive.
Collaborating on a document in Docs in Proton Drive. Image source: Proton

End-to-end encryption protects against data breaches and mass collection, and it ensures your data will not be used to train AI. These are all things to keep in mind when trusting any third-party cloud service provider with your data, especially documents you’d like to keep private.

It’s not that Google Docs and Microsoft 365 won’t secure your docs, because they do. Those companies also won’t train AI with your documents. But Proton’s extra end-to-end encryption protection is much better. And Google and Microsoft can’t match it yet.

That said, I wouldn’t expect Proton Docs to be as feature-rich as Google Docs or Microsoft 365. But I think Proton will eventually get there. The privacy aspect is probably the main selling point for Proton Docs at this time.

Proton Docs doesn’t come as a standalone app, however, and is instead part of Proton Drive. The rollout has already begun, and all Proton users will eventually get it. However, you will need an internet connection to work on Proton Docs since there doesn’t appear to be an offline mode for now.

To start using Proton Docs, just log into your account or sign up for a new one at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.