Friday

19th Aug 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief as well as the Greek prime minister's top aide.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us