Tags: NSA/Surveillance | germany | spying | emails | typewriters | security

German Pol: Scrap Email, Go Back to Typewriters to Thwart Cyber Spies

By    |   Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 05:12 PM

A German politician wants to go back to typewriters for documenting sensitive data to confound high-tech snoops like the National Security Agency.

Patrick Sensburg, who heads a German parliamentary inquiry into NSA spying there, told a German TV show, Morgenmagazin, that email will soon be superfluous, Time reports. 

"Are you considering typewriters?” an interviewer asked Sensburg Monday night.

"As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either,” he replied.

"Really?" the incredulous interviewer asked.

"Yes, no joke," Sensburg assured him.

"Unlike other inquiry committees, we are investigating an ongoing situation. Intelligence activities are still going on, they are happening," he said, according to The Guardian newspaper. 

"Of course we have to keep our internal communication secure, send encrypted emails, use encrypted telephones and other things, which I'm not going to say here," he added.

Rival politicians scoffed at Sensburg’s retro plan.

"Before I start using typewriters and burning notes after reading, I'd rather abolish the secret services," tweeted Martina Renner, another member of the parliamentary committee investigating U.S. spying activities in Germany.

The Guardian reports Christian Flisek, the SPD's representative on the committee, told Spiegel Online: "This call for mechanical typewriters is making our work sound ridiculous."

“We live in the 21st century, where many people communicate predominantly by digital means," he said. "Effective counter-espionage works digitally too. The idea that we can protect people from surveillance by dragging them back to the typewriter is absurd."

The Telegraph also reported the German politicians also intend to combat electronic snoops by playing classical music during their meetings to drown out sensitive discussions. 

Berlin isn’t the first nation to go back to the future in counter-spy technology – Russia took similar measures after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the Kremlin had been a target of NSA spying, according to the BBC. 

According to the BBC, the Kremlin’s security agency spent around $14,162 on typewriters equipped with a special typing pattern that let each document be linked to a particular machine.

A scandal that began last October, when it was revealed NSA bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone escalated last week with a top CIA official at the American Embassy in Berlin getting booted out of Germany. 

And earlier this month, a German intelligence official who'd allegedly been working as a double agent for the United States, was reportedly arrested on suspicion of spying. 

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A German politician wants to go back to typewriters for documenting sensitive data to confound high-tech snoops like the National Security Agency.
germany, spying, emails, typewriters, security
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2014-12-15
Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 05:12 PM
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