German officials are considering reverting back to using manual typewriters to fight surveillance tactics, particularly those used by U.S. intelligence.
In wake of the U.S. surveillance scandal that included tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, German politician Patrick Sensburg said the use of the typewriters is a definite possibility given the vulnerabilities of electronic documents and email.
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"Unlike other inquiry committees, we are investigating an ongoing situation. Intelligence activities are still going on, they are happening," Sensburg said during an interview on German television Monday, The Guardian reported
"As a matter of fact, we have — and not electronic models either," Sensburg said in response to an interview question about whether email communication would cease. "Really?" the surprised interviewer inquired. "Yes, no joke," Sensburg responded.
Just last week, The Guardian reported, the Central Intelligence Agency’s station officer in Germany was asked by Merkel’s government officials to leave the country after a German intelligence agency employee confessed to passing confidential documents to the U.S. Secret Service. That investigation has created speculation that the CIA may have actively targeted the Bundestag's NSA inquiry committee.
Last November, right after it was revealed that the NSA had bugged Merkel's mobile phone, the German government instructed its military police to only use encrypted mobile phones for sensitive calls. The use of iPhones for intra-governmental communications is also reportedly banned, according to The Guardian.
While Sensburg may be in support of the manual typewriters, others aren’t ready to revert back to the days of hunting and pecking.
"This call for mechanical typewriters is making our work sound ridiculous,” Christian Flisek, a member of the NSA inquiry committee investigating the U.S. spying, told Spiegel Online, The Guardian reported. “We live in the 21st century, where many people communicate predominantly by digital means. Effective counter-espionage works digitally too. The idea that we can protect people from surveillance by dragging them back to the typewriter is absurd."
Martina Renner, another member of the inquiry committee said on Twitter: "Before I start using typewriters and burning notes after reading, I'd rather abolish the secret services.”
The Russian government reportedly took similar measures last year after the U.S. electronic surveillance activities were leaked by Edward Snowden.
The country’s federal guard service ordered 20 Triumph Adler typewriters, which create unique documents that can be traced to their origin.
Secretary of State John Kerry went to Vienna to meet with German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to try to ease tensions between the two countries, saying the U.S. and Germany are “great friends,” according to prepared remarks for Kerry.
“Let me emphasize the relationship between the United States and Germany is a strategic one,” Kerry said next to Steinmeier. “We have enormous political cooperation and we are great friends. And we will continue to work together in the kind of spirit that we exhibited today in a very thorough discussion.”
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