Secrecy Surprise: WhatsApp, ProtonMail, iPhones Have Limits

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The most important thing in tech today is …

WhatsApp isn’t as private as you probably thought it was … and neither is ProtonMail. Stories over the weekend detailed how both services, which tout themselves as secure communication channels, are willing to expose your identity and messages under certain circumstances.

The revelations come as the tech industry’s commitment to user privacy is under fresh scrutiny. Apple, which has resisted government entreaties to weaken its encryption, faced criticism last month for its plan to securely scan user devices for images of child sexual exploitation.

Forces are pulling tech companies in contradictory directions. Governments want them to weaken security by providing backdoors for their investigations, which could be seen as a violation of civil liberties; but some politicians also say tech platforms should protect civil liberties by allowing more controversial speech on their platforms. Companies face criticism for hacker intrusions, which happen on PCs far more than on tightly controlled platforms like Apple’s iOS; but governments are pushing tech platforms to loosen their grip of control on those platforms, even as the companies warn that would increase the risk of hacks.

Perhaps the solution is in tech companies more clearly expressing their principles. For now, they seem to promise a level of security that they’re unwilling to deliver unless it comes with an asterisk.

While you were sleeping …

Amazon is on a spending spree to grow its shipping business and isn’t content with only delivering products purchased on its own site. The company is now moving cargo for outside customers in its latest move to compete directly with FedEx and UPS. CNBC

Not content with relying on standard chips that are in high demand, some of the world’s biggest tech firms are developing their own semiconductors. CNBC

In the broader world …

Car manufacturers including Ford, Volkswagen and Daimler are still struggling to deal with the impact of the global chip shortage, with executives from each of the companies warning a lack of silicon is likely to remain a problem. CNBC

On the horizon …

9/8 at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT: Pat Grady of Sequoia Capital and Connie Loizos of TechCrunch and StrictlyVC join me for a Fortt Knox Deep Dive on late-stage venture capital

I’m listening to …