Germany 'may use manual typewriters' to fight cyber espionage

The row over alleged US spying and NSA electronic surveillance continues

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The Independent Tech

German security services are considering using manual typewriters for sensitive documents to bypass cyber espionage as the US double agent scandal continues.

Patrick Sensburg, chairman of Germany’s inquiry into NSA spying, told the ARD Morning Show new security measures were being examined.

The Parliamentary committee was originally tasked with investigating the extent of electronic surveillance uncovered by the Edward Snowden leaks but revelations that the committee itself has allegedly been targeted by a US spy unexpectedly widened its scope.

Mr Sensburg said: “Unlike other inquiry committees, we are investigating an ongoing situation. Intelligence activities are still going on, they are happening.

“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."

When asked whether the committee was considering ditching computers and going back to old-fashioned paper and ink, Mr Sensburg said: “We have actually – and not an electronic typewriter either.”

It could be the last resort in Germany’s battle to stop electronic surveillance by the US.

Angela Merkel and President Obama were previously on very good terms.

Some officials are already using “crypto phones” to protect against eavesdropping and taps but it is assumed that they will also be susceptible to spies in time.

Die Welt reported that members of the Parliamentary NSA committee put all their mobile phones into a metal box with Mr Sensburg’s blaring Edvard Grieg to drown out any scraps of conversation that could be overheard.

The scandal deepened earlier this month when it emerged that a double agent embedded in Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) intelligence service was passing information from Parliament’s inquiry into the NSA’s actions to the Americans.

He was reported to have received €30,000 (£24,000) in cash in exchange for 218 secret German documents downloaded on to computer memory sticks.

The German Government ordered the most senior American intelligence official in Berlin to leave the country last week after the existence of a second US spy was revealed, but he has reportedly refused to budge.

Then on Monday, Spiegel magazine reported that foreign intelligence agencies may have been targeting at least two politicians’ phones.

The revelations have dealt a severe blow to US-German relations, which were recovering after the Snowden leaks revealed Angela Merkel’s phone had been tapped by the NSA.