Germans look for encrypted emails in wake of NSA revelations

Aug. 29, 2013 at 11:12 AM

BERLIN, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. spying scandal is having an international ripple effect, with Germans seeking out encryption services from email providers, a German minister says.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told reporters in Berlin Wednesday German citizens have reacted to the disclosure of data mining by the U.S. National Security Agency by switching to German email providers and "demanding encryption of their emails so far reserved to telecom companies."

"There is a great opportunity for private encryption," the EU Observer quoted Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger as saying.

She said while she had yet to take that step for her private email, among the German population "some 80 percent have done so."

EU Observer noted that email service providers based in Germany cannot be easily tapped by the NSA or Central Intelligence Agency, while U.S. providers such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail cannot guarantee customers' communications will not be exposed to PRISM, the NSA surveillance program revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has fled to Russia.

EU Observer said Deutsche Telekom, the largest Internet provider in Germany, is offering "Email Made in Germany" with encryption and storage on local servers.

"Germans are deeply unsettled by the latest reports on the potential interception of communication data," Deutsche Telecom chief executive Rene Obermann said in a release. "Our initiative is designed to counteract this concern and make email communication throughout Germany more secure in general. Protection of the private sphere is a valuable commodity."

Roberto Valerio, managing director of Cloudsafe in Hamburg, said the "PRISM affair" is benefiting his company, noting "the volume of traffic and the number of new customers have risen by 20 percent in recent weeks."

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