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David against Goliath - why we all need free journalism

Up to last week Tutanota was not accessible for AT&T mobile users - until journalists started to ask questions.

2020-02-21
In big organizations like AT&T lots of people are responsible for many different tasks. Thus, it's normal that decisions are made to tend to seemingly minor issues later. Yet, a minor issue to the big organization can be a real hassle to individuals or start-ups. The AT&T and Tutanota case shows why we all need free journalism.

Three weeks without access

Starting on January 25th 2020, we have had constant complaints from AT&T mobile users who were unable to access their encrypted Tutanota mailbox. While AT&T in the beginning seemed willing to fix this when we reached out to them, the issue was still not solved two weeks later.

Media attention got the ball rolling

In mid-February, after having contacted AT&T several times without a meaningful reply, we decided to make the issue public. Of course, when going public with the AT&T case we exaggerated a bit calling for net neutrality. On the other hand, we needed the attention of AT&T, and we couldn't know why or how Tutanota was being blocked in some US regions on AT&T mobile.

After a lot of attention for the case on Reddit and on the news, we were contacted by the Director of Technology Security at AT&T who looked into this.

Issue was fixed within a day

Then everything went smoothly. The AT&T team fixed the issue which was a technical glitch on their side within one day.

A similar, yet broader outage happened to Comcast users in March 2018. Similarly, Comcast only started fixing the issue when we raised their attention on Twitter.

Technical glitches with impact

We are certain that neither AT&T nor Comcast wanted Tutanota to be not accessible to their users. However, we are also certain that without the wide-spread attention - via the media in the AT&T case and via Twitter in the Comcast case - the issues would have not been resolved in such a timely manner.

Accessibility on all networks is the basis for the success of a free email service such as Tutanota. These technical glitches of Internet Service Providers can have a severe impact on start-ups.

Free journalism is essential

That's why free journalism is so essential. We at Tutanota support the free press by donating Secure Connect to journalists.

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