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26 Jun, 2014 15:48

Merkel reportedly gets NSA-proof phone with chip costing 2.5k euros

Merkel reportedly gets NSA-proof phone with chip costing 2.5k euros

German Chancellor Angela Merkel can finally hold phone talks with no fear of being tapped by foreign agents, as she now has a secure, German-upgraded Blackberry, Bild reports. Merkel’s contacts now need to install a 2,500 euro crypto-chip to talk to her.

While the German federal prosecutor is investigating the alleged tapping of the chancellor’s phone, exposed by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, Merkel has been looking for ways to get her privacy back.

About a year after Snowden’s leaks published by SPIEGEL, which stated the NSA was spying on some 500 million German communications every month, including up to 20 million telephone calls and 10 million internet data exchanges a day, German media reported that the country’s leader had ensured she is no longer on the snooping list.

According to Bild.de, Merkel has acquired a BlackBerry device with a crypto-chip developed by Dusseldorf-based company Secusmart. Choosing between a classic BlackBerry design and a touch screen variety, she reportedly picked the Q10 model with keyboard.

The Chancellor had to wait for a year for her new phone to be made, German media said.

Hans-Christoph Quelle, managing director of Secusmart displays a new "Secure Call" smartphone at the booth of Vodafone at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover (Reuters / Wolfgang Rattay)

The new phone was probably worth the wait, though: it encrypts all voice calls, as well as all internet communications and short messages within a government intranet, to which it is said to be connected via a highly secure VPN connection. Private calls can also be encrypted with Secusmart technology.

There is one catch, however: to establish a secure connection, the recipient of the call must also have a device with a crypto-chip. These don’t come cheap, costing 2,500 euro (3,400 US dollars) each. Apparently, the entire German government will now have to stump up extra in the name of security.

Merkel is not the only world leader in the BlackBerry club – ironically, US President Barack Obama is also a long-time BlackBerry fan. It is now unclear, however, which of the two have a more secure modification of the Canadian phone.

President Barack Obama checks his Blackberry smartphone (Reuters / Jim Bourg)