Tutanota denounces antitrust violation due to Microsoft Teams blocking registration for its email users

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Microsoft is being urged to block end-to-end encrypted email service users. Tutanotafrom registering an account with their cloud collaboration platform Teams if they attempt to do so using their Tutanota email address.

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An issue that hasn’t been fixed for some time – with an initial complaint filed with Microsoft Support back in January 2021 – appears to be due to Tutanota being treated as corporate email rather than how it is on Indeed (and always has been). ), email service.

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This misclassification means that when a Tutanota email user tries to use that email address to sign up for a Teams account, they get the classic “computer says no” response – with an interface blocking registration and prompting the person to “contact your administrator or try another way”. Email address”.

“When the first Tutanota user signed up for a Teams account, they were assigned a domain. That’s why now everyone who logs in with a Tutanota address has to report it to their “administrator” (see screenshot),” a Tutanota spokesperson explains when asked why they think this is happening.

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Screenshot: Tutanota

To bypass this denial and sign up for a Teams account, the Tutanota user must enter an email address that does not belong to Tutanota. (For example, a Microsoft email address.)

Unsurprisingly, Tutanota is outraged that Microsoft failed to fix an apparent SNAFU and is urging antitrust authorities to take action to ensure that competition in general and privacy-friendly business models such as its own are not harmed by the fact that heavy-duty gatekeeper tech giants cannot provide a level playing field.

AT Blog Post Detailing the saga, Tutanota co-founder Matthias Pfau calls Microsoft’s behavior “brutal anti-competitive practices.”

“Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are debating tougher antitrust laws to regulate big tech. These laws are urgently needed, as the example of Microsoft blocking Tutanota users from signing up for a Teams account shows,” he writes. “Problem: Big tech companies have the bargaining power to hurt smaller competitors with a few very simple steps, like denying smaller companies’ customers from using their own services.”

“This is just one example of how Microsoft can and does abuse its market dominance to hurt competitors, which in turn also hurt consumers,” he adds.

The German company behind Tutatnota was founded back in 2011 and launched its encrypted email client in 2014, so Microsoft can’t be faulted for keeping its finger on the pulse.

But Tutanota says that when they asked the company’s support team to fix the problem they created, they were told it was simply not possible.

“We looked into this internally and at this point the domain cannot go public because the domain was using Microsoft Teams services,” Microsoft support staff wrote in one unhelpful email response to Tutanota, which TechCrunch reviewed.

“As discussed earlier, we cannot make your domain public. The domain has already been used for Microsoft Teams. If commands were used with a specific domain, it may not work as a vanity/public domain,” says another Microsoft support response, which shrugs.

Tutanota kept insisting on the reason why Microsoft couldn’t reclassify the domain for weeks, but just ran into the same denial. Therefore, he will now make his complaint public.

“The conversation went on for at least six weeks until we finally gave in – due to repeated responses that they would not change that,” the spokeswoman added.

In a blog post, Pfau goes on to argue that “competing with Microsoft is next to impossible given their sheer bargaining power” and urges the authorities to “break big tech’s bargaining power”, highlighting the contrast between privacy protections and an encrypted email service like Tutanota, and a tech giant like Microsoft that has a big advertising business that is fueled by tracking web users, depriving them of their privacy to monetize targeted ads.

“We need to break the bargaining power of big tech, as we did in the 1990s. This will lead to a new evolution in today’s online world. One that grows products that focus on delivering value to the consumer rather than maximizing ad revenue,” he writes, adding, “In order to avoid online surveillance, people need privacy-respecting alternatives.”

Microsoft has been contacted about Tutanota’s complaint, but the tech giant has not responded at the time of writing.

This is not the first time Tutanota has found that its users’ access is being blocked by larger platforms, as it has previously had issues with AT&T as well as Comcast in the USA.

Since then, the European Union has adopted sweeping new antitrust legislation designed to start applying from the beginning of next year — also known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will set forward rules for the most powerful platforms (so-called “gatekeepers”) to actively push them towards fair play from other companies, backed up by a regime of heavy fines for violations.

Cloud services are within the scope of the DMA, and this regulation also includes the requirement that the underlying services of the platform apply fair and non-discriminatory general terms of access (also known as FRAND terms), among a long list of other operational requirements and cannot,” so the platform Microsoft Teams could potentially be under the upcoming EU Special Abuse Regime that will apply to it in the future.

However, EU legislators previously proposed Microsoft is unlikely to be the first GAFAM giant to qualify for the block’s shiny novelty ex ante oversight rules given how widespread competition issues are when it comes to the full range of big tech (eg Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple). But the bloc’s direction is now firmly focused on strengthening control over the platform’s power and fairness in its impact, so Microsoft’s dismissive attitude towards Tutanota’s complaint seems reckless, to say the least.

Credit: techcrunch.com /

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