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Episode #64: Skiff & The Future of Digital Privacy

A Chat With Andrew Milich, CEO and Founder of Skiff

Today’s episode is a first. And it kinda happened by chance.

The background: I’m sometimes contacted by founders of or executives from various technology companies. They usually want me to write about their products. I usually say no. A few times, I’ve said yes.

This is one of those times.

Andrew Milich, the CEO, and Founder of a new secure platform called “Skiff” reached out to discuss his new product. And, since we agreed to chat on Zoom, I asked if he’d be comfortable with my recording and sharing our conversation.

He was. Now, we can add our first-ever video interview to Teck Talk.

A graduate of Stanford University, Andrew is a bright and personable human who brings years of experience in technology. During our 30min conversation, we, of course, spent time talking about Skiff, his brainchild.

I started using Skiff Mail (non-paying referral link) a week ago when Andrew reached out to me. Like Google, Skiff mail is 100% free, simple to use, and very powerful. Unlike Google, it is completely encrypted, so any email sent to any other Skiff user cannot be seen by anyone: not by an ISP, not by a malicious hacker, and not even by employees of Skiff.

Skiff employs end-to-end encryption (or “E2EE”) which makes that level of security and privacy possible.

To help stay profitable, the company also offers a paid tier for $8/month which provides additional features not available to free users including, notably, priority technical support.

However, our conversation was about more than just Skiff: we also spoke about the nature of politics, privacy, and security in both today’s world and in the coming years. As a technologist and CEO, I was curious about what Andrew thought about the digital landscape and he didn’t pull his punches:

“I think we’ve seen a really promising push in consumer privacy protection laws… However, I think on the flip slide, I am less certain and confident in the future for people’s objective privacy and their freedom to navigate the web more anonymously.”

I’m guessing that this opinion on the future of privacy — something we both share, by the way — might be the reason Andrew was driven to create Skiff. It’s exactly the kind of software tool that can help average people take back some of their privacy.

I hope you’ll enjoy this first-of-it’s-kind conversation. Who knows: if the response is positive, more interviews might be on the way. Let me know in the comments.

Interview Notes

  • The Skiff platform and its three services are “Mail” (for sending/receiving secure email; “Pages”, (collaborating on secured and shared documents); and “Drive” (which provides secure digital file storage).

  • Skiff’s GitHub page, where you can view the company’s open-source code and inspect it for yourself.

  • Proton and Proton Mail, one of Skiff’s key competitors in the marketplace for secure email and calendaring.

  • GDPR, the new data privacy/security laws in Europe that Andrew alluded to and which went into full effect in 2018.

  • Apple’s bowing to pressure from the Chinese government to PREVENT user privacy at its data centers in China.

  • Apple’s caving to pressure from the Russian government and removing a voting app designed to help Russians vote for leaders who opposed Vladimir Putin.

  • Apple’s iOS Lockdown mode and Passkey features, both of which are coming in the Fall of 2022 in iOS 16.

And that’s a wrap for today’s episode, everyone. Thanks again to my free and paid subscribers for supporting independent technology journalism. I also thank you, in advance, for using the link below to share Tech Talk with your friends, family, and colleagues.

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Product Recommendations

These are the devices and services that I personally use. I pay for everything you see listed here. I made these choices after much research and recommendations from tech industry colleagues.

  • The online backup software I use: iDrive (affiliate link)

  • The VPN software that I use: Nord VPN (affiliate link)

  • The email anonymizer that I use: 33Mail (affiliate link)

  • The secure router I use at my office: Gryphon (affiliate link)

  • The secure router I use at my home: Synology (affiliate link)

  • The service I use to block spam calls/texts: Uncall (affiliate link)

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I want you to trust my opinions. I’ve worked for decades as a technologist and continue to spend considerable time researching and testing software and hardware. But that’s not enough, honestly. In addition, I want you to know the following:

  1. I’ve purchased, owned, tested, or deeply researched every product I recommend.

  2. I’m never paid to sell software or hardware to you.

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Tech Talk - The Technology Newsletter for Everyone
Tech Talk - The Technology Newsletter for Everyone
David Koff