Tutanota says antitrust foul of Microsoft Teams for blocking registration of its email users – TechCrunch

Microsoft has been blamed for preventing users of end-to-end encrypted email service Tutanota from registering accounts on its cloud-based collaboration platform Teams if they tried to sign up with a Tutanota email address.

The issue, which has been going uncorrected for some time — with an initial complaint from Microsoft Support back in January 2021 — appears to have arisen because it sees Tutanota as business email rather than what it actually is (and has been yes), email service.

This misclassification means that when a Tutanota email user tries to register an account with Teams using this email address, they get the classic “computer refused” response – the interface blocks registration and advises the person to “contact your administrator or Try a different email”.

“When the first Tutanota users signed up for a Teams account, they were assigned a domain. That’s why now everyone logging in with a Tutanota address should report to their ‘admin’ (see screenshot),” when asked why When that happens, a Tutanota spokeswoman explained.

Screenshot: Tutanota

To overcome this rejection and sign up for a Teams account, Tutanota users must enter a non-Tutanota email. (For example, a Microsoft email address.)

Unsurprisingly, Tutanota took issue with Microsoft’s failure to address the apparent SNAFU, and urged antitrust authorities to take action to ensure overall competition and a privacy-preserving business model like its own are not compromised by an overly powerful gatekeeper tech giant has failed to deliver. damage to a level playing field.

in a blog post Tutanota co-founder Matthias Pfau detailed the saga, calling Microsoft’s actions “severely anti-competitive.”

“Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are discussing stronger antitrust legislation to regulate Big Tech. The example of Microsoft preventing Tutanota users from signing up for Teams accounts proves that these laws are much needed,” he wrote. “The problem: Big tech companies have the market power to hurt smaller competitors by taking some very simple steps, like denying customers of smaller companies access to their own services.”

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

The German company behind Tutatnota was founded in 2011 and launched its encrypted email client in 2014 – so Microsoft can’t be entirely blamed for taking the pulse here.

But Tutanota said when it asked the company’s support staff to fix the problems they created, they were told it was simply “not feasible”.

“We’ve reviewed this internally, and as of now, it’s currently not feasible for the domain to be public because the domain uses the Microsoft Teams service,” Microsoft support said in an unhelpful email to Tutanota wrote in the reply. TechCrunch reviewed it.

“As mentioned before, we cannot make your domain public. This domain is already used for Microsoft Teams. If a specific domain is already used by Teams, it cannot be used as a vanity/public domain,” said another supporter from Microsoft Support were unconvinced by this.

Tutanota continued to try to press, as Microsoft was unable to reclassify the domain for weeks – only to encounter the same brick wall of denial. Therefore, it is now open to complain.

The spokeswoman added: “The conversation went on for at least six weeks until we finally gave up – because they repeatedly responded that they would not change that.”

In the blog post, Pfau went on to argue that “competing with Microsoft is virtually impossible given its sheer market power” and urged authorities to “break the market power of Big Tech” – emphasizing privacy-enabled endpoint versus end-to-end Encrypted email services like Tutanota, and tech giants like Microsoft, which has a huge ad-tech business that monetizes targeted advertising by tracking web users and stripping them of their privacy.

“We need to disrupt the market power of Big Tech like it did in the 90s. This will lead to new developments in today’s online world. The rise of a product focused on benefiting consumers — not maximizing ad revenue,” he wrote , adding: “In order to protect themselves from being tracked online, people need privacy-respecting alternatives.”

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

This isn’t the first time Tutanota has found its users’ access blocked by the larger platform, which has had issues before AT&T and Comcast In the United States.

Since then, the EU has passed sweeping new antitrust legislation, which will come into force early next year – namely the Digital Markets Act (DMA) – which will provide the most powerful platforms (so-called “Watch doormen”) to develop pre-rules to actively promote them to compete fairly with other businesses, complemented by a system of significant penalties for non-compliance.

Cloud services are in scope of the DMA – the regulation also includes a requirement that in-scope core platform services must apply fair and non-discriminatory general conditions of access (aka FRAND terms), as well as a long list of other operational “dos” And don’t do it – so Microsoft’s Teams platform may be applicable in the future within the framework of the EU’s upcoming special abuse regime.

That being said, EU lawmakers have previously suggested that Microsoft is unlikely to be the first GAFAM giant to qualify for membership in the EU. beforehand Regulations because of how broad the competition issue is when it comes to the big tech companies (ie Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, etc.). But the EU is now moving firmly toward increased scrutiny of the fairness of platform power and its impact, so Microsoft’s dismissive approach to Tutanota’s complaints is unwise to say the least.

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