Tutanota prides itself on being, in its own words, the world's most secure email service – but it may not be accessible quite everywhere in the world.
Another point the company often makes is that end-to-end encrypted emails are stored on its own servers in Europe, where data protection and privacy laws are much more robust than in the US – but what good is that to US-based users, if they can't even log into their accounts?
Namely, in a tweet posted on February 12 on its official account, Tutanota said it was continuing to receive reports from US users about AT&T blocking their access to the service.
— Tutanota (@TutanotaTeam) February 12, 2020
“Dear AT&T please lift this block and give Americans the choice to use secure emails,” said the tweet, using a hashtag referring to net neutrality – apparently linking the power of ISPs in the US to throttle or block content with the current issues experienced by some of its users.
In an email, Tutanota said:
“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 seemed willing to fix this when we reached out to them, the issue is still not solved and reports from users keep coming in.
Being in Germany, we were not able to test the issue ourselves, but our users confirmed that Tutanota was blocked on AT&T mobile connections, e.g. in Chicago.”
The response to the tweet revealed that the outage was affecting users in different ways, depending on the region and the type of internet connection they are using.
One reply said the user was unable to connect to Tutanota on AT&T wireless, but had access when using other networks. Another couldn't get to the Tutanota website over AT&T mobile, while some had no trouble connecting in this way.
I can confirm that when connected to @ATT wireless, I can NOT connect to Tutanota. Works fine on other networks.
— Moe Lassus (@moelassus) February 12, 2020
These user reports are still varied and at times contradictory, and Tutanota is yet to come out with an explanation of what exactly is going on with its service in the US – although it seems to be pinning the blame on the telecommunications behemoth. But something is going on, because these problems started over two weeks ago.
At the time, users complained on Tutanota' Reddit community about their inability to access either the app or the website from devices connected via AT&T only, and mostly on mobile, while wireless seemed to work.
As we await a resolution, or at least a clear explanation of these issues, it's troubling to see that Tutanota, that positions itself as a secure and privacy respecting alternative to Gmail, might have more giants to worry about than only Google.
And AT&T is as big as they come – it's only the world's largest telecommunications corporation.