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German politicians to get encrypted phones

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Merkel's Blackberry was encrypted but her Nokia phone was not. Photo: DPA
09:04 CET+01:00
Germany's two main parties have agreed on measures to keep their internal communications safe – including all politicians using encrypted mobile phones, it emerged on Thursday.

The interior ministry of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their Social Democratic Party (SPD) counterparts have, Bild newspaper said, decided on “urgent” guidelines for ministers' and top ranking officials' mobile phones.

The parties are currently in coalition negotiations over forming Germany's next government. 

Under the new government politicians will only make calls on encrypted phones, meaning mobiles which are not protected will become the exception instead of the norm. It means iPhones will no longer be allowed for official correspondence.

“Our conversations and communication structure have to be safer,” the government report said, following news at the end of October that Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone was being tapped by US intelligence agencies, and that both the UK and US embassies in Berlin allegedly had listing posts on the roof of their buildings. 

CLICK HERE for seven questions Germany should ask the NSA

Finer details were drawn up by the Bonn federal office for information security (BSI). It has said that discussing official matters over the phone should only be done so on one that is BSI-approved.

The software is not iPhone-compatible, so Apple products will start disappearing from the German parliament.

German media reported that eavesdropping on Merkel's phone may have started in 2002, when she was Germany's main opposition leader and three years before she became chancellor.

The National Security Agency (NSA) stopped spying on Merkel after the White House learned of the snooping in an internal mid-year review, the Wall Street Journal reported last month in the first public acknowledgement that there was US eavesdropping.

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German spy chiefs also travelled to Washington in the aftermath of the scandal to try and get answers from American security officials about the extent of the phone tapping.

READ MORE: US attacks 'outrageous' media probe into its 'secret wars'

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