Summary: As the core of communication technology in the modern era, electronic mail or email keeps on being the most important and most used platform that anyone needs to have in their day-to-day digital communications. Despite the existence of other communication platforms such as instant messaging and social media, email remains to be the most basic form of online communication, whether it is for personal or business purposes. This is why it is very important for anyone to keep their email privacy protected. Fastmail allows anyone to take control of their email privacy without having to succumb into any advertising scheme.
Nowadays, it is very easy for anyone to obtain a new email address. There are many popular service providers, such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and many others, that allow you to create a new email address for any purpose, whether it is for personal or business purpose. You just need to spend about 5 minutes filling out the sign-up form, and your new email address will be ready to use. Almost anyone in the world today has at least one email address that they can use to communicate with others digitally. Best of all, most of the big email platforms are free to use.
However, with the growing demands of the use of email comes the growing demands to monetize the email platforms. Thus, big companies resort to put advertising into their email platform, taking advantage of the user’s basic profiles and communication behaviors to determine the best advertisements to be displayed on their inbox. Due to this practice, these free email service providers need to collect anonymous data regarding their user base to match their ads with the personality and behaviors of their users. This way, the advertisers will be happy to keep putting their ads within the email platform.
As the advertising elements of these free email platforms are proven to be effective, the companies behind them started to utilize more aggressive strategies to obtain as much information as possible about their users, albeit anonymously. This further creates a growing concern for the users regarding the safety and privacy of their email communications, data, and information. This is why more and more people are migrating from the free email platforms that they have been using for years, into a better platform that offers more privacy and security for their email communications. This is where Fastmail comes into place.
As one of the pioneers of the privacy-based email service, Fastmail has grown considerably in recent years due to the demands for more online privacy voiced by concerned users of free email services. We have interviewed Fastmail’s COO, Helen Horstmann-Allen, to explain to us more about this privacy-based email service.
The Evolution of Fastmail – From the Past to the Future
Throughout the years, the technology behind email has evolved significantly, from being a simple tool of communication into a feature-rich platform. Fastmail has been consistent in offering their privacy-centered email service since 1999, back when people were still new to this form of communication. As two decades have passed, more people realized the importance of having an email service that protects their privacy.
As more people are shifted toward using mobile devices as their primary means of communication, Fastmail has been working to develop the new internet standards (JMAP) that allow developers to build the email-related tools based on the open standards as opposed to proprietary software. It makes it easier for the developers to add more features to the email platform in the future, which allows the platform to expand and evolve throughout the years.
Helen Horstmann-Allen explained, “When we started our company, many people were new to email. From the start, we’ve offered a premium ad-free email service that is reliable and private, where customers receive personal support. Today, people are starting to realize how important these aspects are when choosing an email provider. Our values drive us to offer a human-centered approach to email, which is unlike how other companies do business.
People are using email differently, shifting towards more use on mobile devices, and the technology sector has changed. Some big tech companies have dominated the market, often using practices that have reduced competition. To move email forward, we’ve led the development of new internet standards (JMAP) that modernize email and help developers make email tools built on open standards instead of proprietary software.”
The Difference between Fastmail and Other Free Email Providers
Fastmail has been putting the biggest emphasize on the users’ privacy and security, and this service provider never sells users’ data in return for advertising monetization. This is one biggest difference between Fastmail and other free email providers like Gmail and Outlook. Moreover, as a company, Fastmail aims to maintain a good and personal relationship with their customers, making sure that the users can feel good when they use this email platform.
While Gmail and Outlook use the users’ data to entice advertisers to put their ads on their platform, it is not so with Fastmail. This privacy-centered email service provider is committed to keep the platform secure from any data-mining activity that risks the users’ privacy in a big way.
Helen Horstmann-Allen said regarding the differences between Fastmail and other free email providers, “Free email has a cost, and it’s your privacy. Your life’s private details pass through email and companies that monetize your data get a lot more from you, than you get from them. As our paying customer, you are at the center of our business. We like to say Fastmail is “email you can feel good about.” Feeling good about your email means you have a provider you can trust; and a service you know is reliable, useful, while also being private and secure. In addition, our company works to make email better for everyone by publishing open standards for email, so that the technology that powers good email tools can be open to everyone.”
Is the Subscription Model the Only Way to Use Fastmail?
As a premium email service provider that offers privacy features for the users, Fastmail has been offering a subscription model on their pricing plan from the beginning. While the first month is free, subsequent months require the users to pay for the service. However, the price per user is always offered at an affordable rate. It has different subscription plans depending on your needs, whether you want to use it for personal and individual email or business use.
Helen Horstmann-Allen explained about the subscription models offered by Fastmail, “Fastmail is for everyone who emails. We offer a business plan, but just as many are individual customers. Our pricing has always been subscription-based. Fastmail has always served people who want great email service, but now we see just as many choosing us because they understand that free accounts are paid for with your privacy.
For business, our plan stands out by offering a way for teams to share emails with Topicbox. Topicbox puts emails into one centralized, searchable place, and allows administrators to control who’s in the group and reach them at one email address. Teams using Topicbox get more out of the time they spend on email.”
How Assistance and Access Bill Affects Fastmail’s Customers
The Assistance and Access Bill is a law-enforcement legislation that demands email providers to provide access to a certain email address when it is required by law. As far as the customers are concerned, this bill will not affect their privacy unless they clearly broke the local or international laws that requires the government to issue a warrant to investigate the person’s email communications. As far as Fastmail is concerned, this bill will not change how the company protects the privacy of their users, albeit the company didn’t consider this legislation to be good and fair for technology industry and individual privacy.
“The AABill does not directly affect Fastmail customers. The bill is designed to create an avenue for law enforcement to access data they can’t currently access. However, we have always responded to law enforcement when a valid warrant is presented. We won’t be making any changes to our technology or our policies because of the bill.
Our position on the bill is that it’s not a good law. It ignores the feedback we and other technology companies have provided about why it increases risk to Australia’s technology industry and customers. We have spoken up about it in order to advocate for individual privacy rights and the technology industry generally. We do so hoping that our advocacy will help to produce better legislation going forward,” said Helen Horstmann-Allen.
How Fastmail Answers the Users’ Concerns when Choosing Email Providers
As a privacy-centered email service provider, Fastmail has a different way of dealing with the privacy of their users in their email communications. Many of the Fastmail customers were people who are trying to migrate from Google products without having to worry about abandoning all the features that they have been accustomed to, such as Calendar and Contacts.
Moreover, this email service provider takes their users’ privacy and security very seriously, and they will not sell the users’ data for the sake of bringing advertisers to their platform. Moreover, the human approach allows any user to communicate directly with Fastmail’s customer service to ask questions and resolve their issues with the platform, as opposed to other free email providers that are very difficult to contact when problems arise.
To conclude our interview, Helen Horstmann-Allen explained about the users’ concerns when choosing a good email provider, “Most of our customers report that they choose Fastmail as way to move away from Google products. Privacy-aware consumers are looking for Gmail alternatives that don’t require them to give up the features they love, like calendars and contacts, which we provide. Next important to our customers is privacy and security, which we take very seriously. Our team has twenty years of expertise in this area. Our dedication to privacy and security has made us the trusted name in email.
Finally, while other providers make it almost impossible to get personal support, our customer support team is one of the best on the internet. Our human approach to email includes answering all of our users’ questions and helping them to get the most out of their email experience.”
The Subscription Model Offered by Fastmail
Fastmail offers three subscription plans that are priced per user. With the affordable pricing per user, you can choose the plan that suits you best depending on the features that you want to have and how you will use your email address. All plans come with basic privacy and security features and free cloud storage, as well as personalized customer service. The higher the plan, the more additional features you can get, such as bigger storage, custom domain email address, administrator archive, team sharing, and administrator control.
The three different plans offered by Fastmail are Basic, Standard, and Professional. The Basic plan allows users to enjoy basic privacy-related features with 2GB storage. The Standard plan allows users to get 25GB cloud storage and the ability to use custom domain name for their email address. Meanwhile, the Professional plan gives the users a whopping 100GB storage with more additional features, such as administrator archive, team sharing, and administrator control. Anyone can try any plan that they want to use for the 30-day free trial before committing to full subscription toward this service.