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The surveillance activities of the US have put German government officials on high alert. They fear the far reaching arm of mass US surveillance capabilities. This is why the latest suggestion to maintain data privacy for sensitive materials is to go back to the basics. We may soon see the German government using typewriters for secret communications. The same move to use typewriters was also proposed in Russia last year.
German Parliament on Thwarting US Surveillance
Patrick Sensburg is the leader of the German parliamentary investigation on NSA surveillance. He recently gave an interview to Morgenmagazin, a popular German TV show. During the interview, he shared what the investigatory team was working on. They have been studying US surveillance activities by the NSA and looking for ways to put a stop to invasive US surveillance. They are working on ways to increase their data security. This includes better and more digital security like device and email encryption. Plus, they are also working on alternate ways of producing, sending and storing data. This, they believe, may be equally effective in preventing the NSA from getting to the sensitive data.
The Internet has aided government spying for many years because of its open nature. We often hear that nothing is safe on the Internet anymore. There are more security breaches with this modern medium of communication than there ever were with more traditional means. This has sparked the question of using non-Internet means of recording and sending data to thwart US surveillance.
On the specific questions of using typewriters to write sensitive documents, Sensburg said that the government was indeed seriously taking into consideration the application of this as a solution. And they will not even be using electric typewriters, Sensburg says. Electric typewriters can record data, and the point of using these machines instead of computers is precisely to ensure that there is no other copy of the data anywhere. This means they almost eliminate the risks that the data can be stolen by US surveillance agents. It may be grossly inconvenient, but undoubtedly less inconvenient than having secrets leaking here, there and everywhere.
The Committee on NSA, US Surveillance
Sensburg is part of the political of party well-known data privacy advocate Angela Merkel. Merkel has been on the forefront of every German data privacy issue since the Snowden revelations about US surveillance. Now Sensburg is the head of the new Bundestag inquiry committee responsible for looking into NSA surveillance. This committee was formed only early this year, no doubt in response to allegations of massive, invasive US surveillance through the NSA and other agencies.
Earlier this month, a German spy was arrested for selling data to the US government. He worked for the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s intelligence agency. He admitted to passing hundreds of documents to a US contact. It is not certain, but prosecutors suspect that he was asked to spy on Sensburg’s committee specifically. Naturally the NSA wants to know what the Bundestag committee is doing to thwart them so they can come up with a US surveillance counter attack.