Thursday

8th Dec 2016

Germans switch to national email providers after US scandal

  • Germans are outraged at US spying, the minister said (Photo: Valentina Pop)

German people are flocking to national email providers and demanding encryption services normally reserved for corporate security in the wake of the US spying scandal, German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told journalists in Berlin on Wednesday (28 August).

"German users have reacted to the NSA [the US' National Security Agency] scandal by switching to German email providers … and they are demanding encryption of their emails so far reserved to telecom companies. There is a great opportunity for private encryption," the minister said.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

She claimed that "some 80 percent have done so" already.

A Liberal politician known for her outspoken statements, Schnarrenberger said she herself uses the government email encryption for her work-related communication, which represents the lion's share of her emails.

"I have no encryption for my private email, but I am willing to take one up if it works smoothly," she said, noting that the government encryption service is somewhat cumbersome, especially when travelling abroad.

Users of Gmail or Yahoo Mail - two US-based email giants - cannot exclude the possibility that their chats and emails are being snooped upon by Prism, a far-reaching surveillance programme uncovered by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who has since fled to Russia.

Email companies based in Germany and using only German servers cannot so easily be tapped by the NSA or CIA, however.

Observing the switch in their customer's email preference, Deutsche Telekom, the largest internet provider in Germany has launched a service called "Email Made in Germany," offering encryption and storage on local servers.

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

Smaller email companies, such as the Berlin-based Posteo, have also seen a hike in new users.

Offering encrypted connection and full anonymity, Posteo opened 2,000 new accounts last week alone and over 20,000 since the NSA scandal broke, Deutsche Welle reports.

German servers are also in demand.

The so-called Cloud, servers offering remote storage space for individuals and companies alike, is not a US-only phenomenon.

"We expect to benefit from the Prism affair, given that the volume of traffic and the number of new customers have risen by 20 percent in recent weeks," said Roberto Valerio, managing director of Hamburg-based Cloudsafe, which promises a "secure online repository for your most valuable assets."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  2. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  3. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  5. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  7. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  8. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  9. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  10. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  11. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  12. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children