Sunday

24th Mar 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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."

Interview

Facebook, Skype challenged in EU over spy affair

A group of Austrian students have challenged the EU-based subsidiaries of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo on data privacy following revelations that they allowed US intelligence services to search to Europeans' data.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us