Element Customer Privacy Policy

Please read this document carefully before accessing or using this service!

1. Introduction

1.1 English, Not Legalese

Most Terms of Use and Privacy Policy documents are unreadable. They are written by lawyers and for lawyers, and in our opinion are not very effective.

Privacy is important, and we want you to understand the issues involved. For that reason we decided to use plain English as much as possible, to make our terms as clear as possible. Some sections still have room for improvement - we plan to tackle these over time.

Where you read 'Element', ‘Element Matrix Services’, ‘EMS’, ‘the Element app store’ or ‘element.io’ it refers to all services made available at https://element.io for:

Where you read 'homeserver', 'homeservers' or 'the Homeserver', it refers to the services configured within Element which store the user account and personal conversation history, provide additional functionality such as bots and bridges, and (where enabled by the Customer) communicate via the open Matrix decentralised communication protocol with the public Matrix Network.

Where you read ‘the Service’ in this document, it refers to the Element chat app instances exposed on https://element.io (or subdomains) by New Vector Ltd (trading as Element).

Where you read Element (trading name of New Vector Ltd.), or we or us, it refers to New Vector Ltd., and its French subsidiary: New Vector SARL and their agents.

Element is the Data Controller for your data. We can be contacted as per the details below:

Email: [email protected]

Postal address:
c/o New Vector Ltd
10 Queen Street Place
United Kingdom

Should you have other questions or concerns about this document, please send us an email at [email protected].

1.2 Scope of This Document

This document explains how we process personal data, as it relates to:

This document does not cover:

If you are using the matrix.org server provided by the Matrix Foundation, you can find the relevant Privacy Notice and Terms and Conditions here:

1.2 The Customer and the User

This document is designed to explain Data Protections issues relating to Element Customers and Users. Put simply, you're a Customer if you're paying (or otherwise compensating) Element to provide a dedicated hosted messaging service. If you have an account registered on a homeserver that you use to send and receive messages, or use the Element chat app to connect any server within the Matrix Protocol, you are a User.

It is possible to be both a Customer and a User, but we encourage you to consider these roles separately when thinking about Data Privacy concerns.

1.3 Changes to This Document

Over time we may make changes to this document. If we make a material change we will provide the Customer with reasonable notice prior to the change. We will set forth the date upon which the changes will become effective; any use of Element by the Customer, or any use of a hosted homeserver from EMS by a User will constitute the Customer's acceptance of these changes.

Your access and use of Element is always subject to the most current version of this document.

2. Access to Your Data

2.1 What is the legal basis for processing my data and how does this affect my rights under GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)?

2.1.1 Legal Basis for Processing

Element has different legal basis for processing, based on which product you are using:

2.1.2 Data Ownership - Messaging and File data within hosted homeservers

The Customer can use Element Matrix Services to provision and manage hosted Matrix homeservers. The Customer owns and controls all messages and files submitted to their homeserver by User accounts registered natively on their homeserver. This ownership does not extend to messages and files submitted over federation or bridging.

This means that, in addition to the usual data access controls defined by the Matrix protocol, all unencrypted messages and files can be accessed by the Customer, and that access is retained even if no User account within the system retains access to the data.

2.1.3 Your Rights as Data Subject

You have rights in relation to the personal data we hold about you. Some of these only apply in certain circumstances. Some of these rights are explored in more detail elsewhere in this document. For completeness, your rights under GDPR are:

  1. The right to be informed
  2. The right of access
  3. The right to rectification
  4. The right to erasure
  5. The right to restrict processing
  6. The right to data portability
  7. The right to object
  8. Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling.

For more information about these rights, please see the guidance provided by the ICO. If you have any questions or are unsure how to exercise your rights, please contact us at [email protected].

2.2 What Information Do You Collect About Me and Why?

The information we collect is for the purpose of supporting your management of hosted homeservers through Element Matrix Services, or to support operational maintenance of the Element Matrix client. We do not profile homeserver Users or their data, but we might profile metadata pertaining to the configuration and management of hosted homeservers so that we can improve our products and services.

2.2.1 Information you provide to us:

We collect information about you when you input it to the Element or Element Matrix Services apps or otherwise provide it directly to us.

Element Matrix Services Customer Account and Profile Information

We collect information when you register for an account. This information is kept to a minimum on purpose, and is restricted to:

Your authentication identifier is used to authenticate your access to Element Matrix Services at https://ems.host and to uniquely identify you.

Element Matrix Services (EMS) Customer Account Transaction and Billing Information

Paying for hosted homeserver service via EMS is handled entirely by our payment processor, Stripe. The processor stores your credit card information as well as your billing contact information in order to process your monthly or annual automatic renewals, or to allow you to upgrade or downgrade your subscription without re-entering a credit card number.

We never have access to, nor store your full credit card information.

The payment processor code we use also sets a cookie in your browser, to remember your info for future purchases. You can delete or block that cookie if you wish; our website will continue to work.

We require you to enter your billing information. This data, as well as the last four digits of your credit card which is sent to us by our payment processor, is stored in our transaction database in order to maintain our financial records. This information appears on your invoice, which can be accessed by anyone who has been sent the url link to your invoice. We make the invoice links purposefully long and hard to guess for added security, and we prevent search engines from indexing them.

The history of changes to the billing contact information on the invoice made by you or our team are logged and stored in our transaction database.

The data we collect in our transaction database, including Personal Data, is not shared with third parties, except for the purposes of determining the validity of a payment. In this case we may share the name and email address associated with the purchase with the credit card holder, your company's accounting department, or with our payment processor when responding to a chargeback.

We use a third-party, Quaderno, to help us with tax automation within our billing system.

2.2.2 Information we collect automatically as you use the service:

Connection Information

We log the IP addresses of everyone who accesses Element. This data is used in order to mitigate abuse, debug operational issues, and monitor traffic patterns. Our logs are kept for:

Usage Information

We track usage data for Element hosting services. When you are signed in to your account we may track your usage of the site and associate that information with your account details. This data helps us understand how our users are using the application so that we can make improvements to the Service.

Our analytics are powered by the Free and Open Source analytics platform Matomo, hosted entirely within our network. The servers which host this data are located in the EEA, specifically in London, United Kingdom. We don't share any analytics data with third parties.

If you are using the Element chat app, you will be asked to opt-in to this anonymised data collection. Your use of the Service does not rely on your opt-in to this.

2.4 Sharing Data in Compliance with Enforcement Requests and Applicable Laws; Enforcement of Our Rights

In exceptional circumstances, we may share information about you with a third party if we believe that sharing is reasonably necessary to

(a) comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request,

(b) protect the security or integrity of our products and services (e.g. for a security audit),

(c) protect Element and our users from harm or illegal activities, or

(d) respond to an emergency which we believe in good faith requires us to disclose information to assist in preventing the serious bodily harm of any person.

2.5 How Do You Handle Passwords?

We never store password data in plain text; instead they are stored hashed (with at least 12 rounds of bcrypt, including both a salt and a server-side pepper secret). Passwords sent to the server are encrypted using SSL.

It is your sole responsibility to keep your user name, password and other sensitive information confidential. Actions taken using your credentials shall be deemed to be actions taken by you, with all consequences including service termination, civil and criminal penalties.

If you become aware of any unauthorized use of your account or any other breach of security, you must notify Element immediately by sending an email to [email protected]. Users should manage good password hygiene (e.g. using a password manager) and change their password if they believe their account is compromised.

If you forget your password (and you have registered an email address) you can use the password reset facility to reset it.

2.6 Our Commitment to Children's Privacy

We never knowingly collect or maintain information in Element, through any of the Services provided, from those we know are under 16, and no part of Element is structured to attract anyone under 16. If you are under 16, please do not use the Service.

2.7 How Can I Access or Correct My Information?

If you are a customer of Element Matrix Services (EMS) you can access all personal information that we collect by using the account management interface at https://element.io You can download a copy of all your data as per section 2.1.3.

If you are a user of the Element chat app you can request a copy of your data by emailing [email protected]. We are working on a solution which will allow you to download the data automatically.

2.8 Who Can See My Homeserver Configuration?

Data stored in Element is accessible by the Customer's account and by Element engineers (employees and contractors) under the conditions outlined below.

2.9 What Are the Guidelines Element Follows When Accessing My Data?

2.10 Who Else Has Access to My Data?

We host the Element Matrix Services on Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically:

Amazon employees have access to this data. Here's Amazon's privacy policy. Amazon controls physical access to their locations.

We use Cloudflare to mitigate the risk of DDoS attacks. Here's CloudFlare's privacy policy.

Physical access to our offices and locations use typical physical access restrictions.

We use secure private keys when accessing servers via SSH, and protect our AWS console passwords locally with a password management tool.

2.11 What happens if Element is sold?

In the event that we sell or buy any business or assets, we may disclose your personal data to the prospective seller or buyer of such business or assets.

If we or substantially all of our assets are acquired by a third party, personal data held by us about our users will be one of the transferred assets.

2.12 How Is My Data Protected from Another User's Data?

All of the Element user data resides within the same dedicated cluster. We use software best practices to guarantee that only the Customer can access it. In other words, we segment User data via software. We do our best and are very confident we're doing a good job at it, but, like every other service that hosts User data on the same database, we cannot guarantee that it is immune to a sophisticated attack.

2.13 What Should I Do If I Find a Security Vulnerability in the Service?

If you have discovered a security concern, please email us at [email protected]. We'll work with you to make sure that we understand the scope of the issue, and that we fully address your concern. Information security is our highest priority, and work to address any issues that arise as quickly as possible.

Please act in good faith towards our users' privacy and data during your disclosure. White hat security researchers are always appreciated.

3. Making a Complaint

We try to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information. For this reason, we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention at [email protected] if they think that our collection or use of information is unfair, misleading or inappropriate. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures.

If you want to make a complaint about the way we have processed your personal information to the supervisory authority, you can contact the ICO (the statutory body which oversees data protection law) at https://www.ico.org.uk/concerns.

4. Document History