1.1 English, Not Legalese
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 ‘Wepoc’, ‘Wepoc Services’, ‘the Wepoc app store’ or ‘element.io’ it refers to all services made available at https://element.io for:
- The Element chat app, an open source Matrix client which you can use to connect to any server that implements the Matrix protocol;
- The Gitter developer communication app;
- The purchase, provisioning, configuration, monitoring and management of hosted homeservers and associated services via Element Matrix Services (EMS), or the Element app store.
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’ or ‘we’ or ‘us’ below, it refers to Element, a trading name of New Vector Ltd., its French subsidiary: Element Software SARL, its U.S. subsidiary: Element Software Inc, its German subsidiary: Element Software GmbH, and their agents.
Element is the Data Controller for your data. We can be contacted as per the details below:
c/o New Vector Ltd
10 Queen Street Place
Should you have other questions or concerns about this document, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1.2 Scope of This Document
This document explains how we process personal data, as it relates to:
- Element chat app users: Element chat app users use Element to connect to any server that implements the Matrix Protocol.
- Gitter app users: Gitter.im is now a part of Element, and will soon be bridged to the Matrix protocol, allowing its users to talk to other Matrix users.
This document does not cover:
- Your relationship with the Matrix server if it isn’t provided by EMS: Your account details and preferences, messages, files and any other data you share via the Matrix protocol are the responsibility of the Matrix server, and it is the provider of that server’s job to make sure your data is handled appropriately and that you are well informed.
- Your relationship with identity servers: you might chose to use an identity server, to allow other Matrix users to discover you via the Element app. This is optional and requires your explicit consent to discover users from your personal contacts. For the identity server made available by us, please see the Identity Server Privacy Notice.
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:
- Matrix.org Privacy Notice – https://matrix.org/docs/guides/privacy_notice.html
- Matrix.org Terms and Conditions – https://matrix.org/docs/guides/terms_and_conditions.html
- Matrix.org Code of Conduct – https://matrix.org/docs/guides/code_of_conduct
- Matrix.org Copyright Notice – https://matrix.org/docs/guides/copyright_notice
1.3 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 Protection concerns.
1.4 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:
- Element chat app users: we collect your IP address when you request access to the Element client from our web server. This data is collected under Legitimate Interest, to support operational maintenance and to protect against malicious actions against our infrastructure.
- Gitter app users: we collect the details of whatever account you use to sign-up to Gitter, via OAuth (this could be GitLab/GitHub/Twitter). This data is collected under Legitimate Interest, to allow you to use the service.
- Element customers: your data is processed under Performance of Contract. This means that we process your data only as necessary to meet our contractual obligations to you, or to engage with you to do something before entering into a contract (such as providing a quote);
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:
- The right to be informed
- The right of access
- The right to rectification
- The right to erasure
- The right to restrict processing
- The right to data portability
- The right to object
- Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling.
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 (EMS) and Element Home 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:
- Email address
- Authentication Identifier; one of:
- Email address and password
- Twitter id
- Google id
Your authentication identifier is used to authenticate your access to Element Matrix Services at https://ems.host and to uniquely identify you.
You will be given the choice to set up 2-Factor Authentication to secure your account. For 2FA over SMS, we will require your phone number. This information will be shared with Twilio, a SMS service provider.
Element Matrix Services (EMS) Customer and Element Home Account Transaction and Billing Information
Paying for hosted homeserver services 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.
Element Home Account Setup
When setting up an Element Home account via the setup wizard, we will temporarily access your account data, in order to migrate your existing Matrix account to your new Element Home account. This includes:
- List of rooms you have joined
- Power levels in those rooms
- Your avatar
The setup wizard will also request your OpenID and access token, in order to retrieve your name and verified email address. This information will be temporarily sent to our backend, but will not be retained following your setup completion.
If you do not have an email address verified by a trusted homeserver (such as Matrix.org), we will require you to add and verify a valid email address, for billing and host setup purposes.
Lead generation and marketing information
We might collect information about you through adverts placed in third-party platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Google. Whenever you click an advert on these platforms you may be asked to provide details such as:
- Email address
- Organisation of employment
- Job title
Within each of these adverts you will be notified of the legal basis under which your data will be processed. This information will be stored on our marketing automation platform Outplay and our CRM systems Salesforce and Pipedrive, and will be processed in accordance with this policy. We also use Hubspot, Matomo and Posthog to manage our website analytics and marketing automation.
2.2.2 Information we collect automatically as you use the service:
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:
- 30 days, for EMS Customer IP addresses;
- 180 days, for Element chat app IP addresses;
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.
When reporting errors we might collect some information to help us find a solution. This may include your IP address, hostname, full name and e-mail address. This information is collated in the application monitoring platform Sentry and is subject to strict retention policies.
We may collect location data on you, if you choose to use the static or live location sharing features within the Element app. This includes your longitude, altitude and latitude data in order to accurately calculate your precise location.
Location data is held within the room in which it is shared, so it will be encrypted in encrypted rooms and not encrypted in rooms where encryption is switched off. You will be shown a disclaimer during your first time using this feature, but please apply caution and consideration when sharing your personal data within the app.
The Element clients use the third-party service MapTiler to provide the images used to display maps.
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 unauthorised use of your account or any other breach of security, you must notify Element immediately by sending an email to email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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?
- We restrict who at Element (employees and contractors) can access Element non-encrypted data to roles which require access in order to maintain the health of the Element apps and services.
- We never share what we see with other users or the general public.
2.10 Who Else Has Access to My Data?
We host the Element Matrix Services on Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically:
- Our admin server is hosted in an AWS data centre in Amsterdam;
- Our deployment server is hosted in an AWS data centre in Stockholm;
- Customer deployments have the option to select the geographical location which is the most convenient for them;
We also host the Gitter.im app on AWS, in a datacenter based in the East of the US.
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.
Nobody at Element, or any of our processors, is able to access encrypted data.
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@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
- 2018, March 28: Policy document for public homeserver exposed at https://matrix.org was created.
- 2018, August 2: This document was derived from the above.
- 2020, July 15: Document revision
- 2020, August 14: Updates to section 2.2.2 and 2.10
- 2020, October 2: Update to section 2 to include Gitter user data and section 2.2.2 to include Sentry error log collection
- 2021, February 22: Updates to section 2, to include Element Home offering and update to section 2.2.1 to include marketing Information
- 2021, April 23: Updates to 1.1 to include US subsidiary and 2.2.1 to cover Twilio for 2FA
- 2021, October 11: updates to 2.2.1 to cover changes in Marketing subprocessors
- 2021, December 1: updates to 1.2 to define relationship with identity servers
- 2022, May 30: updates to 2.2.2 to include location sharing