March 18, 2001

German armed forces ban MS software, citing NSA snooping

Author: JT Smith

By John Lettice -
- The Register -

The German foreign office and Bundeswehr are pulling the plugs on Microsoft
software, citing security concerns, according to the German news magazine Der
Spiegel. Spiegel claims that German security authorities suspect that the US
National Security Agency (NSA) has 'back door' access to Microsoft source code,
and can therefore easily read the Federal Republic's deepest secrets. The Bundeswehr will no longer use American software (we surmise this includes Larry and Scott as well) on computers used in sensitive areas. The German foreign office has meanwhile put plans for videoconferencing with its overseas embassies on hold, for similar reasons. Under secretary of state Gunter Pleuger is said by Spiegel to have discovered that "for technical reasons" the satellite service that was to be used was routed via Denver, Colorado.

According to a colleague of Pleuger's this meant that the German foreign services "might as well hold our conferences directly in Langley." We're not entirely sure whose interesting video conferencing via satellite service has a vital groundstation in Denver, but we note that Pleuger seems to have gleaned this information from a presentation held earlier this month in Berlin by, er, Deutsche Telekom.

Which just happens, along with Siemens, to have picked up the gig. The two companies have supplanted Microsoft (and anything else American) and will be producing a secure, home-grown system that the German military can be confident in.

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