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Secure cloud email service erupts from Iceland

SaaS and social networking service for the security conscious launched by Opera founder

iceland flag

A new cloud-based email and social networking site promising better security and less intrusive commercial practices has been launched in Iceland.

Named Vivaldi.net, the service has been set up by Opera Software co-founder Jon von Tetzchner and fellow Opera veteran Tatsuki Tomita as an alternative to other cloud-based email services such as Gmail and Outlook.com.

The service claims to offer ad-free email, something that Gmail in particular has been criticised for in the past, and also incorporates social elements such as blogs, cloud-based photo sharing, forums and live chat.

According to Tomita, the company chose Iceland as lits base both because many of the people behind the project are Icelanders and “for the people of Iceland, the rights to freedom of speech and strong consumer protection laws are most important.”

Iceland is recognised as having some of the strongest privacy and freedom of speech laws in the world and is home to the International Modern Media Institute.

The institute is, according to its website, a “foundation working towards rethinking media regulation, securing free speech and defining new operating principles for the global media in the digital age.”

Tetzchner elaborated on this point in an interview with Reuters, saying: “There has been a lot of focus on safety lately, and it has mainly been focused on governments. But I think this is just as much an issue for the companies in this business.”

"Our initial focus is on the computer geeks because they usually have higher demands for functionality, safety and privacy. But a lot of ordinary people also worry about these things and we will welcome everyone,” he added.

Commenting on the NSA surveillance scandal, which has caused some disquiet with regard to the cloud, Tetzchnersaid he cannot promise to keep the US spy agency away, but claimed that Vivaldi is “without a doubt” the safest option out there, adding “this is one of the reasons we have chosen to do it from Iceland."

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