Proton Docs offers AI-free and privacy-friendly alternative to Google Docs

Proton Docs offers AI-free and privacy-friendly alternative to Google Docs

Swiss tech company Proton is adding Docs functionality to Proton Drive, comparable with Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Proton’s main argument for privacy-loving users: it will be impossible to scrape the content of documents for AI training.

Like quite a few Proton products, the new addition’s functionality is very similar to that of Google Docs. The Proton word processor offers real-time collaboration, enables document sharing, and supports common file types such as .txt and .docx.

The functionality is being rolled out gradually, so not all Proton account owners can use it yet. When the service is unavailable, users can only upload existing documents and files into their Proton Drive, as before. Creating new files or making edits is only possible after a user gains access to the service.

AI robots can’t access it

As with all its services, Proton’s main selling point is its robust privacy features. Proton’s products are governed by strict Swiss privacy laws, which keep data from being accessed by governments, including the U.S. and EU.

Best known for its encrypted e-mail service, the company also guarantees end-to-end encryption here. Not only for the documents themselves but also for users’ keystrokes and cursor movements. This level of encryption guarantees only users can access their data, which means no crawling of documents for AI training. Anant Vijay, senior product manager for Proton Mail and Proton Drive, also said in a blog post that his company, unlike Google, does not keep data on users’ activities.

Google promises to leave documents alone

It is worth noting that Google does not train its AI models on documents of Google Drive users. Only when those documents are publicly accessible, by being posted on a website or social media platform, can they be used this way (because they can be crawled). Sharing a Google Drive document via a public link does not allow AI to crawl it, Google says. However, Google Drive users are able to use the AI assistant Gemini to search their own documents on demand, something that will not be available in Proton Drive.

In any case, anyone who wants to edit documents in the cloud in a Google-like manner under the protection of Swiss privacy laws can soon use Proton’s new service. However, according to the British PCMag, Proton Docs still has trouble understanding the formatting of uploaded documents. Text is also sometimes missing in its entirety. Apple Pages documents and spreadsheet files are also not yet editable.

Also read: Google’s AI assistant Gemini now searches your mail and documents