Privacy is important, and we want you to understand the issues involved. We have decided to use plain English as much as possible, to make our terms as clear as possible.
When you read 'the Identity Server', 'the Identity Servers', or 'the Service' below, it refers to the Identity Servers made available at https://vector.im and https://matrix.org which provide account discovery services for Matrix users.
Where you read 'Element' or 'we' or 'us' below, it refers to Element, a trading name of New Vector Ltd. and its French subsidiary: New Vector SARL and their agents.
The Matrix protocol is licensed by the Matrix Foundation which makes it available to third parties who set up their own Identity Server. This privacy notice does not apply to Matrix Identity Servers run by anyone else - Matrix is an open network like the Web and this agreement only applies to the Identity Servers (matrix.org and vector.im) provided by Element
Element is the Data Controller for the Service.
Email: [email protected]
Element 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 [email protected].
With your help, we want to make our policy documents the best in the industry.
If you read something that rubs you the wrong way, or if you think of something that should be added, please get in touch! We're all ears! Email [email protected] and we'll chat.
We don't amend this document for any specific users or use case, but if your proposed changes apply to all of our users, we'll be happy to update it for everyone. Scroll to the bottom to see the history so far.
We will likely improve this document over time. By continuing to use the Service, you will implicitly accept the changes we make.
Your access and use of the Service is always subject to the most current version of this document.
Identity Servers support contact discovery on Matrix by letting people look up Third Party Identifiers to see if the owner has publicly linked them with their Matrix ID.
A Third Party Identifier is an identifier that uniquely identifies a person, but isn't a Matrix ID. Most commonly this is an email address or a telephone number.
Identity Servers offer the following services:
Verified Association of Matrix ID with Third Party Identifier
You can ask the Identity Server to establish that you own your email address or phone number and associate it with your Matrix ID. The Identity Server will verify that you own that identifier by sending a link or code to your email address or phone. The association is not considered valid until your ownership of the Third Party Identifier has been confirmed.
Account Lookup by Third Party Identifier
You can look up a Matrix ID by searching for its associated Third Party Identifiers. You cannot look up Third Party Identifiers by searching for their associated Matrix ID. For example: if Alice has used the Identity Server to link her email, [email protected] with her Matrix ID, @example:matrix.org, other users can look up her Matrix ID by querying the Identity Server with her email address, but they cannot discover her email address by querying the service with her Matrix ID.
The Identity Server supports both individual and bulk Third Party Identifier lookup:
Individual Third Party Identifier Lookup
Individual Third Party Identifier Lookup is usually used when inviting a user to a Matrix room by their Third Party Identifier.
Bulk Third Party Identifier Lookup
Bulk Third Party Identifier Lookup is usually used to check whether any of your existing contacts already have a Matrix ID.
Registration with Email or Phone Number
Some homeservers rely upon the Identity Server for part of new user registration, using the Identity Server to perform the verification of ownership of the email address or phone number.
We will be removing support for user registration from the Element Identity Servers. In the near future homeservers we manage will be able to complete registration by email address without delegating ownership verification to an Identity Server. This document will be updated when this behaviour has changed.
Some homeservers rely upon the Identity Server for password reset by email, using the Identity Server to send a unique link to the user to complete password reset securely.
We do not provide support for password reset from the Element Identity Servers. Homeservers can already complete password reset by email without delegating to an Identity Server. Homeserver administrators should not rely on Element Identity Servers for password reset.
Binding on Registration
When your client is configured to use either the vector.im or the matrix.org Identity Server and you register on a homeserver with your email address and/or phone number:
- if that homeserver is not run by Element then registration will not publicly link your email address or phone number with your Matrix ID. In this case the vector.im or matrix.org Identity Server will only store your data long enough to establish your ownership of the Third Party Identifier.
This behaviour is also being phased out. In the near future, choosing to publicly link your Third Party Identifiers with your Matrix ID via an Identity Server will be a wholly separate step, fully divorced from registration. This document will be updated when this behaviour has changed.
Data is shared between the vector.im and matrix.org Identity Servers in a closed federation.
This means that when you ask the Identity Server at vector.im to link your Matrix ID with your email address or phone number, this data is replicated on the matrix.org Identity Server. Likewise if you ask the Identity Server at matrix.org to link your Matrix ID with your email address or phone number, this data is replicated onto the vector.im Identity Server.
Your data is processed under Legitimate Interest. This means that we process your data only as necessary to deliver the Service, and in a manner that you understand and expect.
The Legitimate Interest of the Service is the discoverability of contacts across the wider Matrix ecosystem. The processing of user data we undertake is necessary to provide the Service. This facility is an optional component of the services provided by Element, designed to make contact discovery easier. Matrix works very well without an Identity Server.
You can remove your data from the Service at any time by using a Matrix client (such as Element) to remove your Third Party Identifiers from the connected Identity Server. The data will be rendered inaccessible across matrix.org and vector.im Identity Servers straight away, and will be deleted from the matrix.org and vector.im databases within 30 days.
If your homeserver is spec-compliant (i.e. if it faithfully implements the Matrix protocol specification detailed at https://matrix.org/spec), your Third Party Identifiers will be deleted if your account is deactivated.
Under GDPR you have a right to request a copy of your data in a commonly-accepted format. If you would like a copy of your data, please send a request to [email protected].
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 information we collect is purely for the purpose of letting people discover Matrix IDs that have been publicly linked with a Third Party Identifier (such as email or telephone number). We do not profile users or their data on the Service.
We collect information about you when you input it into the Service or otherwise provide it directly to us.
Third Party Identifiers you look up
Third Party Identifiers that are looked up are logged in our application logs. These logs are kept for not longer than 7 days. Haproxy logs may be kept up to 60 days.
Currently, we log the IP address of the party who accesses the Service. Since this is usually the homeserver requesting data on behalf of its user(s), it is usually the IP address of the homeserver that is logged. This data is used in order to mitigate abuse, debug operational issues, and monitor traffic patterns. Our logs are kept for not longer than 180 days.
The purpose of the Service is to share your associated Matrix ID with whomever looks up your linked Third Party Identifiers. As a reminder, use of this service is optional - if you do not want your Matrix ID to be discoverable from your Third Party Identifiers, please do not use the service.
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, The Matrix.org Foundation, 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.
We never knowingly collect or maintain information in the Service from those we know are under 16, and no part of the Service is structured to attract anyone under 16. If you are under 16, please do not use the Service.
You can view and modify your published Third Party Identifiers by using any compatible Matrix client (such as Element) and managing your User Settings.
Anyone who knows your Third Party Identifier can query the Service to see if you have publicly linked it with a Matrix ID. Queries only work in this direction It is not possible for parties who only know your Matrix ID to query the service and discover your Third Party Identifiers.
The association between your Matrix ID and your Third Party Identifiers is stored in Element databases. This means that, unlike regular users, Element employees and contractors can look up your Third Party Identifiers from you Matrix ID (subject to the New Vector data access guidelines below).
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 console passwords locally with a password management tool.
We log application data (caller IP and user agent). We keep logs for no longer than 60 days.
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.
All of our users' data for the Service currently resides in the same database cluster. We use software best practices to guarantee that only people who know your linked Third Party Identifiers can use them to look up your Matrix id. In other words, we segment our 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 their user data on the same database, we cannot guarantee that it is immune to a sophisticated attack.
If you have discovered a security concern, please follow the Matrix.org Security Disclosure Policy.
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.
A note to other startups: this document was heavily inspired by Balsamiq's plain English ToS document. We were impressed by their championing of plain English, and wanted to reproduce that as much as possible in our own legal documentation. Feel free to draw similar inspiration from this document, though be sure to get any documents you produce checked over by a lawyer. Good luck!