German politicians are considering reverting to old-school forms of communication to thwart U.S. surveillance efforts.
Patrick Sensburg, the head of the Germany’s NSA Inquiry Committee, said in a TV interview Monday that officials have discussed conducting internal communications by typewriter to keep American eyes off of sensitive documents.
“In fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it’s even a non-electronic typewriter,” Sensburg said, according to a translation by Ars Technica.
Tensions have been high between the US and Germany after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed extensive NSA monitoring of German officials in June 2013, including reports that the organization had been tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone for years. Germany’s NSA Inquiry Committee was founded in March to investigate the extent of the spying.
Earlier this month, relations worsened when Germany arrested an agent in its intelligence service accused of selling secret documents to the United States. After the arrest, a top CIA official was expelled from Berlin in an unprecedented response to the allegations. German politicians have been exploring a variety of creative methods to combat the spying.
The Guardian translated a report from Die Welt that said German officials are revolutionizing the way they communicate in light of the spying revelations.
“Above all, people are trying to stay away from technology whenever they can,” wrote Die Welt, as translated by the Guardian. “Those concerned talk less on the phone, prefer to meet in person. More coffees are being drunk and lunches eaten together. Even the walk in the park is increasingly enjoying a revival
In addition to switching to typewriters, politicians are now trying other ways to ensure privacy, including playing classical music over sessions of parliament.
“Unlike other inquiry committees, we are investigating an ongoing situation. Intelligence activities are still going on, they are happening,” Sensburg said Monday, according to The Local, an English-language site about Germany. “And 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 of course.”
Germany is not the first country to switch to low-tech: Russia bought 20 electric typewriters last year to keep inside communications more private, according to the Moscow Times.
“Any information can be taken from computers,” a Russian member of parliament said of the switch. “[F]rom the point of view of keeping secrets, the most primitive method is preferred: a human hand with a pen or a typewriter.”