ICYMI: In this our eleventh edition of 21 Questions By Decentralize Today we headed to Germany to chat with Hanna, who is the Press Officer at Tutanota, the world’s first end-to-end encrypted mail service that encrypts the entire mailbox. With its unique open-source technology Tutanota fights for privacy and freedom of speech online. Started as a secure email service, Tutanota now offers an encrypted address book, the encrypted contact form Secure Connect and an encrypted calendar.
21 Questions with Press @ Tutanota
Decentralize.today: if you could choose three words to describe yourself what would they be and why?
Freedom fighter – these are only two, but they fit best. Because we at Tutanota we fight for our users’ privacy, which also makes us freedom fighters.
DT: How, why and when did you get into online privacy protection work?
Ha, that’s a good question. Actually, when I joined in 2014 I didn’t know much about online privacy. I was a typical communications person, and in marketing you don’t like it when people have privacy. So you could say that the Tutanota developers had to educate me first. By now, I’ve become a passionate fighter for people’s right to privacy. And given the German history, with the Stasi and Gestapo and all this, it was quite easy to understand why privacy is so very important. Especially now that surveillance has become so much easier on the Internet. For me, it also makes the job more difficult because I can’t use let’s say ‘standard marketing tools’. Instead, at Tutanota we focus on building a reputation of honesty and fairness. For instance, we don’t join the Black Friday hype but offer fair prices all year round.
DT: What were you doing professionally before Tutanota?
I ran my own marketing company. But after a couple of years, I wanted to be part of a team again and joining the Tutanota team has proven to be a pretty good choice.
DT: How would you describe your current work to a 5 year old kid?
I talk a lot to journalists, explain what Tutanota is and why everyone needs secure email. And also I type and type and type!
DT: What was your first ever job (even as a kid)?
That’s a long time ago... I guess it was giving private lessons to younger kids in English. I’m not a native speaker myself, but I’ve loved learning it, which made me a good teacher as well.
DT: Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to work/business?
The web, and particularly social media. There’s so much going on that you always get new ideas and angles to tell a story.
DT: What’s the best life and work advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t stress yourself too much when things go wrong. Mistakes happen, but if you act calmly to mitigate damages, the results turn out to be much better than when you freak out and act in a rush.
DT: Your favorite superhero or fictional character, and why?
Sorry, I’ll have to pass on this one. I guess I’m too old to admire fictional characters... It’s like the question ‘what’s your favorite color?’ At some point in life, you don’t care that much about these kind of things.
DT: What were you like as a student?
I don’t know, you’d have to ask my peers. However, being a student was the best time of my life – but I guess that’s what everyone says!
DT: What would be your dream project if money were not an object?
I’d love to push an alternative for plastic packaging to the mainstream.
DT: What is your favorite sport or game to watch?
I like playing Badminton, you can play it one on one or as a team against another, which makes it convenient and fun at the same time.
DT: Working in the privacy space and specifically secure communication, how do you decide your strategic focus and determine the programmes required to address these?
I’m responsible for communications at Tutanota. The strategy to bring Tutanota to the people is quite different to what normal marketers would do. We focus on protecting the privacy of our users so we can’t just use standard marketing methods like posting ads or tracking users. That’s out of the question for us. So we focus on building a reputation within the community. We are honest and transparent about what we do, how we do it, even if mistakes happen. This way people trust Tutanota. They share our mission for a fair and private internet. To see that our business model is working is great news – not just for us, but for the internet as a whole!
DT: Who are your real life heroes?
DT: What does your family think of your work and advocacy of online privacy?
To be honest, they were my first target! And I did have to use a little convincing, but by now everyone in my family has a Tutanota account.
DT: What was the last book you read that you would recommend to others?
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, it’s amazingly funny and well-written.
DT: What grinds your gears or are your pet peeves? What do you really dislike?
That politicians keep trying to push for backdoors. By now, everyone understands that criminals can always use encryption – they can build their apps themselves if they like to. So why backdoor secure communication for all citizens? In a democracy this does not make any sense because it’s a fight between the ruling and the people. But per definition, in a democracy, the people are in power. So why have politcians stopped listening to them?
DT: Do you have an “I lost my private keys” type story or a crazy privacy/comms related story? Do share!
Uh, this happens too often to remember, sorry. At Tutanota there’s no way to reset the account if someone lost their password so some people are really persistent in trying to get us to give them ‘their’ account back. But that’s simply not possible. Instead we keep educating people: Use a password manager, print your reset code, it’s tough, but that’s how it is.
DT: Where do you see online privacy protection and communication in ten years time? Where would you like to see them?
I fear that the push for backdoors will continue. However, the defenders of secure communications are also very wellorganized and fight back. I hope that in ten years, this fight will be resolved once and for all: If you want a democracy, if you want free speech, you also must allow privacy. That’s the bottom-line. Every politician must acknowledge that.
DT: What’s your go-to form of entertainment or pastime? What do you do for fun?
Go out, meet people. It’s pretty limited right now, but we’ll get there again!
DT: You have the power to solve one world problem forever. Which one would you choose?
The world is much too complex to solve just one problem, most likely solving one problem would create others...
DT: What would be the one thing you would say to your 18 year old self, if you had the chance?
Back then life seemed more complicated than it actually is, so I’d say just relax and try your best, it’ll all work out.
DT: Whilst we have you on the line, so to speak, maybe you would like to share the 'what's next' for you and Tutanota?
For me? Sticking with Tutanota. It’s the best job I’ve had so far because in communications and marketing you usually have to ‘sell stuff’. But at Tutanota I can make a difference and change the internet for the better. That’s very fulfilling!
And for Tutanota: Our next plans are to add quantum secure encryption to make sure that your encrypted data in Tutanota stays secure even when quantum computers will be available. We already have a working proto-type so we’re pretty excited about this!