German probe turns to typewriters to avoid NSA

Germany's parliamentary committee investigating the National Security Agency is mulling using manual typewriters to make sure American agents don’t snoop on its work. 

Patrick Sensburg, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party who is leading the panel, told a German broadcaster on Monday that the committee needed to do all it can to secure its work from spies’ prying eyes.

"In fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it’s even a non-electronic typewriter," he said, according to a translation from Ars Technica. 


“Unlike other inquiry committees, we are investigating an ongoing situation. Intelligence activities are still going on, they are happening,” he added, according to the English-language outlet The Local.

“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." 

U.S. surveillance of German government agencies and top officials has created a rift between the two countries since last year's revelations that the NSA had been listening in on Merkel’s cellphone conversations.

More recently, one German agent was arrested for handing information to the CIA about the parliament’s inquiry into the NSA. That action caused the government to ask the CIA station chief to leave the country last week. 

Over the weekend, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that two members of parliament had also had their phones compromised.

In an interview this weekend, Merkel said it was “not that easy to convince the Americans” to change the way their intelligence operations work. 

If German officials do decide to use typewriters for their work, they would not be the only ones.

Russian agents reportedly spent thousands on old-fashioned typewriters in recent months to avoid leaks.