I'm trying to make sense of the IMAP support (or lack thereof) for the three "big" or somewhat established privacy e-mail services:

Proton says:

Proton Mail Bridge adds end-to-end encryption to popular email apps, including Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail. Secure email made easy.

Tuta[nota] claims:

Supporting IMAP is not an option for Tutanota as it would undermine our built-in encryption. As an encrypted email service that promises to always keep your data secure, we simply can not implement a feature that destroys this promise.

Hushmail states:

We also support POP/IMAP so that you can access your email in your program of choice (e.g. Outlook, Mail, or Thunderbird).

It seems to me as if Proton requires you to not only pay them money but also to download and install a special software on your computer, Tuta[nota] doesn't support it at all even if you pay them money (which is quite shocking to me), and Hushmail just casually mentions that they (as one would expect) support IMAP access for paying customers.

I have no affiliation or special bond with either service and frankly I dislike all three for various reasons, but I've long tried to move away from Google and Gmail and would like to straighten this out once and for all.

On the surface, Hushmail seems to the only acceptable "choice", since the other two either don't support IMAP at all or require special software, but I vaguely remember that they had various other issues. It might very well be that neither of these services are of any use.

My question is specifically about the IMAP access and how it is possible that they have such different "stances", seemingly contradicting each other, on this crucially important topic. Who would use Tuta if they can't get IMAP access at all? And who in their right mind wants to download and install special software to be able to have IMAP access, as Proton apparently forces you to?

And why does that custom software by Proton even do? I can't for the life of me understand this from reading on their website. Just some generic nonsense about "encrypting and decrypting e-mail". What does that even mean? They cannot possibly magically support encryption while still allowing you to send e-mail to anyone. And if they are just talking about the traffic between your computer and their IMAP server, it's already a given that it's strongly encrypted and doesn't even need to be mentioned.

The only "standardized" e-mail encryption standard that I'm aware of is the extremely little used and complex to use "PGP" technology (which isn't unique to e-mail), which must be used manually or automated by experts who have pre-agreed on the keys and whatnot. How can some software running on my computer possibly "circumvent" that?


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